Phi Beta Cons

A Test for the Obama Administration

The Obama administration has declared, the evidence from the New Black Panther party case notwithstanding, that it “makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved.”  Very well, then, here is a good case to test that commitment.

Quinnipiac Chronicle reports that its home university has a vacancy for associate director of student diversity programming. Last week, the president of the university, John Lahey, stated at a Student Government Association meeting (so there should be plenty of witnesses), “We could fill that position tomorrow if we wanted to but we very much want, now that we have a Hispanic in the case of the chief diversity officer, an African-American for that particular position. Even though there are more diverse, different groups that the [associate director of student diversity programming] works with, we think having that person be an African-American is very important to concluding that search.” Accordingly, he specified his desire to hire a “high-quality African-American” for the post.

Now, even those who are politically correct might be somewhat taken aback by the “high-quality African-American” phraseology and its suggestion that maybe sometimes racial bean-counting results in someone less than high-quality getting hired. The Latina chief diversity officer referenced in President Lahey’s quote seems particularly conflicted on this point, according to the article, and a student in the article makes what I read as a sarcastic reference, too.

But my main point is that, when the head of a business or agency or university announces that he wants to hire only those of a particular race for a position, there is a clear violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. This is beyond a goal or even a quota: Only blacks need apply.  So, President Obama, what are you going to do about this?

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