A welcome piece of good news recently came out of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare when Peter E. Holmes, Director of the Office of Civil Rights, announced that colleges and universities should henceforth in all cases hire the most qualified applicant for a job.
This is a clear reversal of HEW policies of the last two years which have required preferential hiring treatment for minorities and women, regardless of qualifications.
The havoc in the educational world wrought by this policy of reverse discrimination was spelled out a few months ago by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education. It issued a report charging that the HEW reverse discrimination policy is lowering educational standards and undermining faculty quality, and that it results in universities playing musical chairs” as they pirate the limited number of minority and women faculty members from each other.
The Carnegie report further charged that some minority and women appointees do not have the proper qualifications for the university positions to which they have been appointed, and sometimes they are even paid more than white male faculty members at the same level.
The Carnegie report pointed out one of the naggingly negative aspects of the so-called affirmative action program in saying that it is “a statistical system that deals more with the hiring of typists, brick layers or unskilled labor [but] should not really apply in choosing a medieval historian.”
Despite the impractical and unjust nature of such reverse discrimination, most colleges and universities submitted to the HEW rule, and spent large sums of money preparing statistical reports proving that they had recruited and hired the necessary minorities, because they dared not risk losing millions of dollars in Federal funds. This is the mighty club behind HEW regulations.
Nevertheless, many eminent professors of different races and religions have spoken out against the self-defeating policy of reverse discrimination. For example, the distinguished liberal Professor Sidney Hook, with his great gift for logical analysis, forcefully argued that reverse discrimination is no remedy for past discrimination.
No one would argue, Professor Hook said, that because many years ago blacks and women were denied the right to vote, we should now compensate by giving them an extra vote or two, or by barring white men from voting at all.
Continuing with another example Professor Hook said, “For years blacks were disgracefully barred from professional sports. Would it not be absurd to argue that today in compensation for the past there should be discrimination against whites?”
Dr. George C. Roche III of Hillsdale College in Michigan is one of the few college presidents who have spoken out courageously against reverse discrimination. In a recent radio broadcast he said: “Along with the damage which comes directly through the lowering of standards, there perhaps is a more severe, long-range danger as well. We run the risk of breeding the very racism and sexism that we’re trying to do away with.”
It is encouraging to note that HEW has finally seen the folly of such absurdities and sent a memorandum to 2, SOQ colleges and universities its policies of reverse discrimination.