Race and College Admission: A Volatile Issue
by Mitch Albom
First, we should remember that
So even if she ruffled feathers this past week claiming she should have been admitted to the
The best thing is to talk to her.
So I did. We spoke for a good 45 minutes Friday. I found her passionate, affable, intelligent and, like many teens her age, adamant to make a point but, when flustered, quick to say, "I don't have all the answers."
The problem is, she went public as if she did. She was the focus of a U-M rally organized by the advocacy group BAMN (By Any Means Necessary). A clip of her went viral, yelling as if her rights had been denied:
"I believe that I have been rejected because of the morals that I stand for! I am
I began by asking Brooke about her high school -- because I've been there.
The Thompsons are white. Most students at
In other words, they insisted on excellence.
When I asked Brooke why it's wrong for the
I pointed out that whites were 79 percent of
"I don't understand what you're asking," she said.
This is such a volatile issue. Under state law, U-M cannot use racial quotas even though campuses benefit from being diverse. And a 14 percent black population would be healthier than U-M's current 4.2 percent, all things being equal. But for each student admitted, many are rejected. Should U-M accept, say, a rich black student over a poor white one simply because of skin color? Isn't academic excellence, not demographics, a university's top priority? And if diversity is the school's job, should there be a ban on Hispanic Student Unions or sitting together in racial cliques on campus?
Brooke lives in
Brooke feels that she has overcome a lot. "My essays were about, like, fighting racism," she said. "Getting into (
But when I told her many students write moving essays, overcome odds, have great extracurriculars (like her debate team position) and also don't get in to U-M -- despite higher grades and scores than hers -- she grew frustrated.
"I'm doing the best I can in this life," she said. "If it's not reflected in my academics, I don't know what else I need to do."
And with that,
And in the future, if she really wants to change things, she can create a two-parent, high-standards home for her own children, and follow an age-old pattern of each generation pushing the next to do better. More than any ethnicity argument or admissions policy, home life will determine educational success.
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Article: Copyright © 2014, Tribune Media Services.
"Race and College Admission: A Volatile Issue"