Dolan: Diversity does matter

Mike Furno

I have a dream that one day Villanova will be a school without diversity, a school that only chooses students with 4.0 GPAs and 1,600 SAT scores. I have a dream that Villanova will be a university that does not have a basketball team, any campus newspapers or even a band. There will be no school activities or students interested in cultural events, movie or even Greek life. Rather than base admissions on qualifications and differentiations, we will base our admissions solely on grades, tests, and a lottery system to be fair.

What a wonderful and boring place Villanova would be without diversity. And this place is exactly what both Villanovan has been calling for as an ideal to be reached through the removal of affirmative action in its last two issues. Both the Ayn Rand Institute and the editorial staff have wrongly assumed that diversity initiatives and affirmative action are racist policies that place an unfair emphasis on one’s race. The truth is that everyone who is accepted into college has had some form of diversity work in his or her favor.

Martin Luther King Jr. would indeed be turning in his grave, as Villanova Times pointed out, if he saw such racism and segregation still occurring in society today. He would not, however, criticize us for having a policy of affirmative action, which encourages students of color to apply and attend Villanova. He would look at our school and ask us why, if some students here claim that affirmative action is no longer necessary, that in a country whose African American population represents 13 percent of the total population Villanova only has a student body made up of 3 percent African Americans. He would ask us why there is not a more representative amount of minority students attending Villanova.

In order for our school to become more diverse and more representative of our society at large, we must make an effort to encourage people of all origins to join our community. Everyone who enrolls at Villanova is qualified. We all have to get certain SAT scores and certain GPAs to even be considered. After that, the University must build a community of individuals based upon other factors like what part of the country a student is from, what instrument they might play or what activities he or she might participate in. All of these different selling points lead to diversity, and so does one’s ethnic background.

As Michael Eric Dyson said in his speech, we are all recipients of affirmative action. If the University needs an editor-in-chief for The Villanovan, a qualified high school senior who is head of his or her newspaper will get preference in the admissions process.

If the University wants to boost its basketball winnings, a qualified high school basketball player will get some preference. The same goes for the high school flutist. In fact, one could say legacy students get affirmative action as well. To say that preference based on a student’s race, especially in a school that does not reflect the diversity of society, is wrong is to say that all of these forms of preference are wrong. We would be discriminating against non-flute players, non-basketball stars and non-news savvy students.

Remember that all of these students are qualified, but each might fulfill a need for the school to create an interesting and functioning community. If we truly wished to base our admissions solely upon academics, all of these candidates would still be on the list to be admitted. We would have to resort to a lottery to be fair, thus giving us a random sampling of students that may or may not make up a community that is diverse and interesting.

The bottom line is that admissions must continue to choose between qualified individuals based on the diversity that each candidate might offer. All characteristics matter, including race.