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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Coalition looks at UA admissions

    Teshina Yazzie of the Dineh Tah Navajo Dancers from Albuquerque, N.M., performs the Basket Dance at the Southwest Indian Art Fair Saturday afternoon outside the Arizona State Museum.
    Teshina Yazzie of the Dineh Tah’ Navajo Dancers from Albuquerque, N.M., performs the Basket Dance at the Southwest Indian Art Fair Saturday afternoon outside the Arizona State Museum.

    A California coalition is investigating affirmative action policies at the UA and other Arizona universities, with the goal of amending the Arizona state Constitution to ban them.

    The American Civil Rights Coalition is weighing requests from various states to determine which will be most receptive and able to amend their constitutions through the November 2008 elections, said Diane Schachterle, director of public affairs for the coalition.

    Defining what the coalition wants to do in Arizona, Schachterle said, “”The state shall not discriminate and will not give preferential treatment in regards to race, sex, color or nationality.””

    Those criteria apply to public hiring, contracting and student enrollment, she said.

    The Arizona Constitution does not specify rules for university practices regarding affirmative action.

    The UA does not have minority recruitment goals, said Scott Cason, director of marketing in the Office of Enrollment Management.

    While the office wants the university to have a diverse student body, preferential treatment is not how they achieve that goal, Cason said.

    The university looks for student diversity by making its advertising, job fairs and recruitment more varied, said Johnny Cruz, a UA spokesman.

    The UA is “”obligated to conduct affirmative action in employment,”” said Jeanne Kleespie, assistant vice president of the UA’s Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action Office. She added, “”I think there’s a lot of misunderstanding for what affirmative action really means.””

    At the UA, affirmative action does not mean meeting quotas, which have been discouraged by the federal government, but rather “”placement goals”” for different job groups, Kleespie said. The affirmative action office expects the UA to fill different types of jobs with a predetermined percentage of women or minorities.

    The percentages are determined by comparing data from the national population to the UA population, so the number of minorities employed at the UA will reflect national proportions, she said.

    Affirmative action practices are implemented when these goals are not met, she said. For example, if the percentage of women in the Assistant Directors – Student Affairs position does not meet the affirmative action office’s goal of 77 percent campuswide, the office attempts to widen the job pool through recruitment, according to the office’s Web site.

    The office may do this by advertising the position in a news source, such as a business journal for African-Americans, Kleespie said, speaking hypothetically.

    “”Affirmative action happens when we advertise in places we haven’t hired from before,”” she said.

    Kleespie said she does not think that an amendment through the American Civil Rights Coalition is necessary in Arizona. This is especially true after the U.S. government quashed quotas that once accompanied affirmative action executive orders, she said.

    “”It’s just a matter of trying to provide equal opportunity to everyone,”” Kleespie said.

    Cruz said he is hesitant for the UA to take a stance on affirmative action because it may give people the wrong impression about the university.

    “”The one concern is that we don’t want to send a message that students and faculty of a certain race or ethnic background are not welcome here,”” he said.

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