“The object of a question is to obtain information that matters to us, and no one else.”
- Sean Connery as William Forrester in "Finding Forrester"

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Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Scholarship for Whites Only

I was reading a number of articles on CNN.com this afternoon and this one caught my attention. An extended article on this topic can be found here.

College Republicans at Boston University, my alma mater, have recently established a scholarship for whites only in the same vain as other scholarships that are designated for other racial/ethnic and heritage groups. According to the articles the scholarship is intended to "trigger a discussion on what we believe to be a morally wrong practice of basing decisions in our schools and our jobs on racial preferences rather than merit."

I'm a bit on the fence about this one. I understand and agree with the basic premise of affirmative action and the effort to move towards equality on all levels. At the same time, though, I think we need to ultimately make admissions and employment decisions based on qualifications alone.

It then begs the question, all things being equal, if you have two candidates for a position who are equally qualified in every way and the only apparent difference is race, who do you hire? It doesn't always sit well with me that the individual who is a minority is then automatically given the advantage. I'm not saying I think the white candidate deserves to get the position instead but I don't necessarily think the minority candidate should get it simply based on his/her race. At that point, they need to develop another stage in the interview process to help figure out which is best for the position, regardless of which one is ultimately hired.

The whole point is that no two people are exactly the same. Leaving race out of the equation, no two candidates for a position would ever have the exact same skill set, interpersonal dynamics, work ethic, or creative drive. So if you get down to two and can't decide, you may need to revisit your selection criteria.

I applaud universities, companies, and other organizations that work towards inclusivity of all aspects of life, not only race. I know my life has been enriched by being surrounded by those who are different from myself in virtually every way.

But we're not there yet. We have a long way to go before we have a truly equal society. So while I wait for that day, I have to default to the side that is working towards that goal.