by: Kerlene Telesforde
At a Tuesday Choice in Buller Hall on February 19, Pastor Timothy Nixon, Campus Ministries Associate Chaplain, and Leilani Langdon, career coordinator/counselor, addressed the issue of whether or not affirmative action creates job search equality among all ethnic groups in the USA. The topic was titled “Does Affirmative Action Create Job Search Equality?” and was chosen by AU's Black History Committee.
Nixon first defined what affirmative action was, then highlighted the historical events that led to the exercise of affirmative action. He states, “Affirmative action encompasses any measure, beyond the simple termination of a discriminatory practice, which permits the consideration of race, national origin, sex or disability, along with other criteria, and which is adopted to provide opportunities to a class of qualified individuals who have either historically or actually been denied those opportunities, and to prevent the recurrence of discrimination in the future.” He explained how racism led to the legal institution of unjust policies that allowed whites better and greater access to opportunities than their non-white counterparts.
Nixon and Langdon explained that the purpose of affirmative action is to make restitution for the centuries of unjust economic practices that have forced successive generations of minorities to live without what they were entitled to as fellow human beings, such as employment, education, social security, healthcare and life insurance. They emphasized the fact that the goal of affirmative action was to ensure that minorities who are qualified for jobs do in fact get hired, regardless of their sex or ethnic background. Langdon also brought up the importance of college graduates knowing if their prospective employers support affirmative action. This awareness can help them to know what the company's attitude toward them will be, how to negotiate fair salaries, and if they will be able to climb the professional ladder.
Allegra Stennett, an international business and French/pre-law senior, gives her opinion on the talk: “I've studied the topic before in other classes, so I just wanted to hear what was being said about it. Because of the history of the country...I feel like it has become necessary to have some sort of plan to integrate blacks into the workplace.” She goes on to say that she believes affirmative action is especially important because people “died for that right the opportunities that we have shouldn't be defined by the color of our skin.”
Wade St. Martin, a biology junior, thought it was “a well-informed presentation.” He says, “I believe that affirmative action has been implemented in some ways at Andrews University by the very fact that it is one of the most diverse universities in the U.S. that AU's administration has a vested interest in incorporating all nationalities.”