By Ryan Bartels
Last week, the UVA Young Americans for Freedom
(YAF) and Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and Success (BUCKS)
teamed up to co-sponsor a forum on the topic of affirmative
action. Anthony Hadford, the chair of YAF, and William
Proffitt, the head of BUCKS, moderated the event. In the spirit of good-natured debate, the
discussion was mostly constructive, with those holding differing
views often making concessions and building off what others had
already said. By the end of the event, the topics discussed
ranged from the history of affirmative action to how education
reform in poor neighborhoods could lessen the need for affirmative
Proffitt and Hadford got the ball rolling with the provocative
question of, "Has affirmative action served its purpose?"
Immediately two distinct opinions emerged in the room, with many
from BUCKS arguing affirmative action has been necessary to the
success of African-Americans in America, and many from YAF taking
the stance that affirmative action is no longer necessary as
society has made great progress in the last five decades. Differing
viewpoints were presented on a variety of statistics, such as the
issue of UVa's percentage of black students as a portion of its
student body markedly declining in the past few decades.
Hadford then shifted the debate to discussing solutions to minority representation in higher education and the
workforce. He stated that, in his opinion, not enough
attention is given to tackling the root of the problem: education and
neighborhood reforms. For, if the educational opportunities
available to poor urban students were improved, then their merit
alone would be able to lift many of them into schools where they
would be able to be competitive. One student pointed out that
public schools consistently do worse than private schools despite
spending more per student and proposed moving to a voucher system
so that the parents of students in less well-off areas could send
their children to schools they actually had confidence in.
After everyone had their say, Proffitt concluded the debate by
saying that most of these issues were much deeper and more complex
than meets the eye. Almost everyone agreed that the
discussion was worthwhile, as many opinions were presented in
reasonable fashions and audience members were focused on
synthesizing solutions rather than simply disagreeing.
Ryan Bartels is the chief editor for UVA Young Americans for Freedom.