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  • UVA YAF Debates Racial Preferences

    10/28/2013 11:56:32 AM Posted by Patrick Coyle

    UVA YAF AABy 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 action.

    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.


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