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Eminent Domain Stuff

New London Update (2/24/06)
Coverage of the Rally at New London's City Hall (w/ pics)

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Affirmative Discrimination

A few days ago I briefly ranted about the official Affirmative Action policy at the University of Happyland (where I work). Georgina (Release the Hounds!) commented that she disagreed with me and that she is planning to discuss this very issue at her blog. Although I don't think she's started in on this yet, I had a minute and thought I'd make another comment or three. Here's her stand:

Basically I realize that most find affirmative action programs etc. unfair but in the end I think they have helped overall towards racial equality in this country and they programs may need to be "tinkered" with I do not want them gone altogether and I am a white female...just so you know where I am coming from.
So, it's unfair but the ends justify the means. I would certainly never rule out ends-justify-the-means arguments since sometimes they are useful and even correct. However, in order for such an argument to hold water it is imperative that your end be worthy of the harm done by the preceding means.

With respect to, say, large research institutions, supporters and detractors of Affirmative Discrimination (AD) policies have two very different ends. Those who favor AD see employing equal (or proportional) numbers of men and women of all ethnic backgrounds to be a noble goal. To this end they support AD policies that require the university to hire people of specific racial backgrounds, skin color or gender.

Ok, great.

But consider this: What, really, should be the ultimate goal of a university research center? Dare I say it? How about conducting excellent research! Now, how does an institution go about ensuring that excellent research will be done in their facilities? Let's see...I'm no administrator, but I'll take a wild guess and say that in order to do excellent research you need excellent researchers.

So the next question is: How does one select excellent researchers to do excellent research? Here is the answer:

In order to select excellent researchers to do excellent research you must choose them based on their academic credentials.

Now, are there any questions about that? It seems relatively simple to me, but you never know. Notice that nowhere in the answer is there anything about whether or not an excellent researcher is a man, woman, black, white, Hispanic or even Outer Mongolian.

In the end any considerations aside from excellence of research credentials will decrease the overall quality of research at an institution. After all, as I said earlier, time and money are finite and so interviewing a person based even in part on his/her gender, race, etc. necessarily will deprive a more deserving candidate who has the misfortune of being the 'wrong' color/gender/etc. Does that ring a bell with anyone? What should we call it? Perhaps: Discrimination?!

But hey, that's just the opinion of a white male.


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