The Student News Site of University of Arizona

The Daily Wildcat

82° Tucson, AZ

The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Debate affirms race dilemma

    Nicholas Capaldi, a professor in the College of Business at Loyola University, presents his argument on affirmative action at the James E. Rogers College of Law building, while the Rev. Elwood J. McDowell listens and waits to respond.
    Nicholas Capaldi, a professor in the College of Business at Loyola University, presents his argument on affirmative action at the James E. Rogers College of Law building, while the Rev. Elwood J. McDowell listens and waits to respond.

    Affirmative action is illegal, immoral and illogical, said a Loyola University professor yesterday during an affirmative action debate.

    The debate, organized by the American Constitution Society and the Federalist Society, highlighted the continuing battle between proponents and opponents of the 42-year-old legislation.

    The American Constitution Society is liberal, while the Federalist Society is more conservative, which is why the debate was significant, said Brian Welker, the event’s coordinator and a first-year UA law student.

    Professor Nicholas Capaldi of Loyola University and the Rev. Elwood J. McDowell, a UA religious studies professor, talked for about an hour on the merits and problems of the controversial law.

    When discussing its legality, Capaldi, who is also the Legendre-SoulǸ Distinguished Chair of Business Ethics at Loyola, pointed to the original wording of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

    “”Nothing contained in this title shall be interpreted to require any employer … to grant preferential treatment to any individual or to any group,”” Capaldi read from the act.

    Affirmative action is immoral for a number of reasons, including one that is reflected in Martin Luther King Jr.’s “”I have a dream”” speech, Capaldi said.

    Capaldi added that King said he wanted his children to “”live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.””

    It is illogical because, among other things, it is hard to classify people, such as a student whose parents are black and Asian, Capaldi said.

    He also said he could “”give extra points”” to the student because his father is black, but then would have to take them away because the student’s mother is Asian and may have some kind of advantage.

    Capaldi said he has come to the conclusion that many, but not all, of the people who have advocated for affirmative action are generally condescending and racist.

    “”They truly believe that minorities are inferior,”” he said, adding that minority students will not make it in school without help.

    However, McDowell said history has shown that people of color and women of all minorities have been excluded from various levels of privilege in education and jobs.

    The argument that affirmative action makes is that discrimination of the past has to be redressed, McDowell said.

    McDowell said he himself benefited from affirmative action in a job he had in the late 1970s.

    However, he had a master’s degree and the other workers doing the same job only had high school diplomas, he said. McDowell added that many people who were hired under affirmative action programs were very qualified for the job.

    There are many instances where underqualified white people have gotten preference, he said.

    “”Dare I say that we all know someone who had a ‘C’ average who got into Harvard Business School,”” he said to a smattering of giggles.

    Controlling for age and other factors, black men who have earned college degrees earn 10 to 20 percent less than their white male counterparts, McDowell said.

    “”It is quite clear to me that the system is still stacked in favor of the majority of white population,”” he said.

    McDowell added that, speaking of immorality, Americans are standing on territory that belongs to Native Americans.

    “”Columbus didn’t discover America any more than I could go out and ‘discover’ your BMW,”” he said.

    The debate was interrupted when the scheduled class for the room came in.

    However, the debate was far from over, as several students continued asking questions and discussing the answers for about another half hour.

    McDowell said the UA is honorable in requiring at least six hours of non-Western studies.

    ‘There’s richness in studying more than Western ideas,”” he said.

    More to Discover
    Activate Search