Column: Where are the White Christians?
· October 18, 1991, 5:00 am
Hhmmmm. The United Minorities Council has stated one of their primary long-run goals is to increase the number of minorities admitted to the University. There are now more minorities at the University of Pennsylvania than "majority" white Christians. However, it turns out blacks are also under-represented at Penn. They comprise only 5 percent of the freshman class and six to seven percent of the general student population, when they are 12.5 percent of the U.S. population. So black student leaders legitimately decry the dearth of black students enrolling at the University. The Admissions Office in response to such grievances is developing new programs to target black students for the class of 1996. They are participating in ten more minority college fairs around the nation. They are initiating recruiting efforts where minorities are brought to campus and stay here with students for an extended period of time to be thoroughly introduced to the University. And this year, the Admissions Office actually accepted a higher percentage of blacks than in previous years even though fewer enrolled. Affirmative action seems to be really fighting the injustice to black students at Penn. But what about white Christian students? They are even more under-represented here than blacks. Who is helping them? Where is their affirmative action? It turns out affirmative action is only for minorities because, according to the theory, white Christians who hold all the power cannot suffer racism. Affirmative action is supposed to balance the playing field by counteracting the racism and the power of the white majority. I have trouble understanding why the powerful white majority would choose to have more minorities at one of the best universities in the country than their own. Hhmmm. So maybe the Christian white majority does not really have all the control people say they do. Maybe they too should be helped in getting their fair representation at this school. Maybe they too should have a host of recruiting programs designed to attract them to this school. Maybe there should be a concerted effort to get the percentage of Christian whites at this institution more in line with national percentages. That sounds equitable. There is just one problem. What do we do with all the people whose race is over-represented at the University? For example, the percentage of undergraduate Turkish students at Penn is 0.1 percent, which is five times higher than the percentage of Turkish-Americans in the country. Should we start weeding out the bastards? What about the Jews? They only represent 1 to 2 percent of the national population but roughly 45 percent of Penn. Should we restrict access to Jewish-Americans or discourage them from applying here? Should we make a concerted effort to decrease the percentage of Jews we accept? After all we need space for the Christians and the blacks. How about the Muslims? There are more Muslims in America than Jews. So should we increase their representation at Penn to equal the Jewish percentage? But wait, the percentage of Muslims at Penn is larger than in the general population. So should we decrease their representation? This is all becoming very confusing. And we haven't even begun to talk about the Asians, the Hispanics, and the poor people of Idaho who don't even have one representative in this year's freshman class. Wait! I just had a crazy thought. What if in order to clear this whole problem up, we didn't even consider a person's race when evaluating their qualifications? What if we assumed everyone was equal? What if we just accepted the best students independent of their ethnicity? I think it just might work. Sure the present policy for admissions, in accordance with the McGill report written in 1967, states that only one-quarter of the students are supposed to be accepted purely on the basis of their academic strength. But just maybe we can now begin to imagine a school where the best students come to learn and be judged on their merits rather than their physical characteristics. Hhmmm. Cenk Uygur is a senior Management major from East Brunswick, New Jersey. How You Like Me Now, Baby? appears alternate Fridays.