Dear UNC-Wilmington Students:
For years, my well-known opposition to affirmative action has been a source of great controversy across our campus, particularly among UNCW faculty. Many have assumed that my position on this topic has been a function of personal prejudice or "insensitivity" to the needs of various "disenfranchised" groups on campus and in society in general. In reality, my opposition to affirmative action has been based on personal experience.
When I first applied for a job as a university professor, a well-meaning department chair at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) told me that I had no chance of getting a job in his department because the only other finalist for the position was a black male. When I took a job at UNCW a month later, I hoped that I had found an environment devoid of such blatant racial discrimination. Unfortunately, my experiences here have proved otherwise. It is my constitutionally protected opinion that I have experienced direct pressure from the administration to engage in both racial and gender discrimination as a member of various university search committees.
Furthermore, I have seen examples of salary discrimination based on affirmative action. For example, one department at UNCW hired a black female as an assistant professor in 1999 before she had finalized her dissertation. Despite her inexperience, she was paid more than two tenured white male associate professors in her department who had, of course, finished their dissertations. One had been teaching at UNCW for five years, the other for seven years.
Despite all of this, I have decided to abandon my long-standing opposition to affirmative action after listening to the oral arguments in the recent U.S. Supreme Court case challenging admissions policies at the University of Michigan. While listening to these recorded arguments, I learned that public universities have a "compelling interest in diversity" which supersedes simplistic notions of reverse discrimination. Now, because my views have changed, I am forced to alter my classroom grading policies.
Students in my classes will continue to have their final grades based principally on test performance. Students will also continue to have a portion of their grade determined by class participation and/or a final paper depending on the class in which they are enrolled (please consult your course syllabus if you are one of my students).
After I compute final averages, I will then implement the new aspect of the grading process which is modeled after existing affirmative action policies at the university. Specifically, I will be computing a class average which I will then compare to the individual performance of all white males enrolled in my classes. All white males who exceed the class average will have points deducted and added to the final averages of women and minorities. A student need not have ever engaged in discrimination in order to have points deducted. Nor must a student have ever been a victim of discrimination in order to receive additional points.
I expect that my new policy will be well received by some, and poorly received by others. For those in the latter category, please contact Human Resources for further elaboration on the concept of affirmative action. You may also contact the Office of Campus Diversity for additional guidance.
I understand that many of you may consider my new position to be unprincipled. Please understand, however, that the university has long abandoned antiquated principles of "fairness" in favor of identity politics. Also understand that my job as a university professor is to prepare you for the real world.
After all, no one promised that life would always be fair.
By Mike S. Adams
April 8, 2003