Michael Adams, the University of Georgia president, has stated he will rage a court battle to keep race as a factor in some freshman admissions. Adams, no relation to the author of this article, has caused quite a stir in Georgia since declaring he will fight for continuing to use affirmative action as a method for denying some qualified students entrance into the University of Georgia.
The reaction in Georgia has been decidedly mixed. Adams is winning plaudits from Georgia Governor Roy Barnes (a Democrat) and some of the state’s political leaders. The political leadership is concerned about what they perceive as low black enrollment at the state’s flagship university, which is only 6% for this year. The Georgia Attorney General, Thurbert Baker, has advised Adams against pursuing this policy and says the University’s chances of winning are slim.
Apparently the judge in this case has already entered two orders which indicate the policy cannot survive a constitutional test. Some political advocates say the blame for a lack of qualified black students lies with the public school system. Either way, Michael Adams is determined to provide a boost for black students whom he perceives as needing a hand to overcome "handicaps." For some white students at the bottom end of the qualified list this will mean a lost opportunity to attend the University of Georgia even though they are qualified.
At issue is 15% of applicants with lower test scores, for whom the university uses an index that includes academics, demographics, leadership qualities, legacy (alumni parents), family educational level --- and race. Adams says his determination to fight for the continuing racial discrimination of who will be admitted to the university is based on his having grown up in the South and being a Southerner. He says he decided to fight for affirmative action as a means to diversify the student body because he believes that is best for the school.
Those who oppose Adams’ effort to discriminate on race say the college administrator’s failure to look beyond skin color – to such intangibles as socioeconomic background and obstacles overcome – in its effort to diversify will prove costly and is a lazy way of trying to seek diversity. To those who accuse him of pulling the school into a costly, possibly futile, legal wrangle, Adams says, "Some fights are worth it."
The Supreme Court has repeatedly struck down racial preference programs in governmental contracting and hiring. In 1996, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals struck down racial preferences in admissions at the University of Texas. In July, U.S. District Court Judge Avant Edenfield chastised the University of Georgia for using race as a factor in admissions, calling the practice constitutionally indefensible.
Adams says he is looking beyond legal decisions. This is typical of "reconstructed Southerners." If the law doesn’t get them what they want, they ignore it like their liberal brethren. These kinds of people would rather continue the practice of dividing Southerners by race rather than uniting them through more positive means. In the spirit of continuing to promote racial tensions, Michael Adams says that the racial discrimination of affirmative action should be continued for at least another generation.
21 October, 1999