Presenters were inundated with questions during a debate on Affirmative Action held in Loosemore Auditorium on the Pew Grand Rapids Campus Feb. 23. More than 200 students, faculty and staff attended the debate which focused on the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative.
Michigan voters will decide the fate of the initiative in November. The proposal would amend the State Constitution by adding an article that would ban public institutions from using affirmative action programs that give preferential treatment to groups or individuals based on their race, gender, color, ethnicity or national origin for public employment, education or contracting purposes.
The proposal will affect state government, local governments, public colleges and universities, community colleges and school districts.
William B. Allen, professor of political science at Michigan State University, argued in support of the proposal, while Lisa D. Cook, assistant professor of economics at Michigan State's James Madison College, argued against the proposal.
Allen argued that Affirmative Action is damaging to the soul and divisive in the community. "Affirmative Action is the 'but for' proposition where you say to someone, 'but for your race you wouldn't be here, but for your race you couldn't be considered, but for your gender you don't have an opportunity."
Cook said she supports a color-blind society but that American society has fallen far short of that ideal. "A variety of forms of negative discrimination and worse have in various ways limited the opportunities available to members of particular identity groups, such as African Americans, female Americans, Hispanic Americans and Native Americans."
Matt McLogan, vice president for University Relations at Grand Valley, served as moderator for the debate which was sponsored by the Seidman College of Business, Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, Multicultural Affairs Office, GVSU College Democrats and GVSU College Republicans.