Last week, President Donald Trump’s administration threatened to sue Harvard University if it does not turn over its applicant records. This comes in the midst of the United States Justice Department’s investigation into Harvard’s Affirmative Action practices. All of this started when a group of Asian-American students sued the university, arguing that they were facing higher admissions standards than other students. And while these students may have a point, attacking Affirmative Action in the name of minorities has a complicated history. Due to Trump’s previous racist tendencies, his resistance to a program that benefits minorities is extremely alarming, even if he says he is trying to protect minorities. In light of these events, it is time that NYU President Andrew Hamilton reaffirm NYU’s commitment to Affirmative Action.
The advantages of Affirmative Action have been debated over the years. However, the program continues to be critical for women and minorities. If anything, the program should be expanded, not attacked. The Justice Department claims it is protecting students from racially-based discrimination. However, it has been previously reported by The New York Times that Trump is mainly concerned with whether or not Affirmative Action is racist toward white people. Trump is just the latest conservative to use minority protection as a cover to attack Affirmative Action. Hamilton must work to ensure that this attack does not make its way to NYU.
In March, Hamilton reaffirmed Affirmative Action policies at the university. These policies include NYU’s commitment not to discriminate against age, gender and/or gender identity and expression, citizenship status, ethnicity, religion and other characteristics of both students and employees. Most importantly, NYU has an annual Affirmative Action plan that computes the percentage of minorities in the student body and reviews how diversity efforts can be improved on campus. While NYU’s Affirmative Action should be more holistic, analyzing economic diversity as well as ethnicity and gender, it cannot be denied that our university tries its best to heighten inclusivity and diversity. Hamilton must continue to ensure this, despite pressure from the federal government to do otherwise.
It goes without saying that this attack on a trademark piece of legislation meant to help minorities is extremely troubling. As a university committed to diversity, equity and inclusion, NYU must reaffirm its commitment to Affirmative Action. If Trump is successful in dismantling Affirmative Action at the country’s most prestigious school, then one can only assume universities like NYU will come next. Hamilton must do everything he can to make sure this does not happen.
A version of this appeared in the Monday, Nov. 27 print edition. Email the WSN Editorial Board at [email protected]