Tahlequah Daily Press

Local News

October 24, 2012

Affirmative action may be under the gun

TAHLEQUAH — Over half a century ago, President John F. Kennedy introduced the term “affirmative action,” to address discrimination tactics in both the education system and the workplace, despite passage of civil rights laws and constitutional guarantees.

Affirmative action policies required active measures be taken to ensure that blacks and other minorities enjoyed the same opportunities for school admissions, financial aid, promotions, salary increases, and career advancements as their Caucasian counterparts. From its inception, affirmative action was viewed as temporary relief to create a level playing field for people of all races.

This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing affirmative action as it applies to college admission standards via the case of Fisher vs. University of Texas.

According to a report in Salon.com, Abigail Noel Fisher – a white woman – applied to the university in 2008 and was denied admission. She did not graduate in the top 10 percent of her high school class, a factor that could have guaranteed her admission. Since she did not make the grade, she had to compete with other applicants – all of whom were considered for admission based on talent, financial circumstance and race.

Fisher took her denial as a sign of racial discrimination and sued the university. The case has since wended its way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which last considered an affirmative action case in 2003. In that particular case, Grutter vs. Bollinger, the court ruled that racial quotas could be applied, but a student’s race could not be weighted more heavily than any other factor during the admission process.

Fisher’s case alleges UT practices make race a dominant factor, thereby surpassing the standards set out in the previous case.

As Tahlequah is the heart of the Cherokee Nation and home to an all-Native American high school, Sequoyah, tribal citizens and educators are watching the case with keen interest.

According to Cherokee Nation Executive Director of Education Dr. Neil Morton, more than 70 percent of Sequoyah graduating seniors pursue a college education. The average enrollment at the school is 380.

Morton believes affirmative action provides a necessary function when it comes to educating minorities.

“Affirmative action provides some redress to centuries of injustices imposed by all levels of government against minority populations,” said Morton. “Leveling the playing field for college admission is a positive action for our students at Sequoyah High School from two basic vantage points: [first], the students’ goals and aspirations are broadened to a new level of thinking that encompasses an attitude of ‘hey, this is available for me,’ and [second], gaining admission and completing a professional field of study at a prestigious school permits the Cherokee students to ‘come home’ to the Cherokee Nation to take leadership roles in service to their people.”

Morton pointed out the success experienced by Sequoyah students who enter college at the rate exceeding 70 percent of each graduating class “is a prime example of affirmative action at work.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is not the only body considering the efficacy and necessity of affirmative action. Oklahoma voters will determine its fate when visiting the voting booth Nov. 6.

If approved, State Question 759 would add a new section to the Oklahoma Constitution banning government affirmative action programs in the state when it comes to public employment, education and contracts.

In a recent Daily Press report, Northeastern State University President Dr. Steve Turner indicated the university not only appreciates, but expects, a diverse work force. He mentioned Fisher vs. University of Texas at Austin.

“In this case, a student claims she was denied admissions based on other racial quotas,” said Turner. “It seems that affirmative action and its application will be decided by the Supreme Court very soon. I will watch for the outcomes of the national and state debates and make sure the employment and admission processes at NSU follow the law.”

Morton declined to comment on the possibility of the Cherokee Nation’s pursuing legal action should the measure be repealed or limited in the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We prefer not to speculate on hypothetical situations,” said Morton.

Sequoyah High School’s student enrollment is just a portion of the tribe’s citizen-students. Morton said the tribe is committed to providing guidance and financial assistance to all Cherokees students pursuing post-secondary education.

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • jn-WEB-truck-fire.jpg Up in flames

    Truck fire could impact city’s trash services

    Operations at Tahlequah’s solid waste transfer station will be impacted by the loss of a 2008 Freightliner destroyed by fire Wednesday night.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • svw-gasoline.jpg Ethanol or regular gasoline? Dealers, mechanics disagree over what’s best

    Oklahoma is one of the few states with refineries producing pure gasoline and E10.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • NSU-fountain.jpg University heads in Oklahoma average $216,000 per year

    First in a three-part series about higher education compensation and how it compares with pay for rest of the state

    For years, area legislators, administrators of state agencies and state employees have been critical of cuts to programs and flat budgets. But while programs may be shaved and salaries for higher education professors may be stagnant, administrative costs seem to be exploding on many campuses.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • ishcomer-elizabeth.jpg Woman picked up for child endangerment

    A 41-year-old woman was released from jail this week after Tahlequah officers arrested her on child endangerment and drug charges.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • mcgregor-michael.jpg Two jailed after false 911 report made

    Two people were jailed Wednesday after a woman allegedly made a false report to 911 dispatchers.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • TPS looking to fill several positions before school starts

    The Tahlequah I-35 Board of Education held a special meeting last night, to bring more certified personnel and support staff on board before school starts.

    August 1, 2014

  • svw-beagles-MAIN.jpg Going to the dogs

    Hounds at center stage for more than just Red Fern Festival

    Larry Blackman and Titus Blanket have always loved dogs, especially beagles. In their respective roles as president and vice president of the Cherokee County Beagle Club, they’ve turned that love into a passion.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • sanders-jeri.jpg Murder charge against mother of dead boy, 3, dismissed

    A first-degree murder charge has been dropped against a 37-year-old mother accused in the death of her 3-year-old son.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • supersalary.jpg Okla. superintendents paid comparatively well; teachers 46th lowest

    Administrators say they work year-round, have other duties

    As public education in Oklahoma continues to feel the pinch of a shrinking state budget, watchdog groups and district patrons across the state are asking whether superintendents are getting a disproportionate piece of the financial pie.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • Boards keep city, county afloat

    City and county officials rely on a variety of boards to oversee diverse and complex issues, and many of their members work behind the scenes to keep the wheels of government oiled and turning.
    The city of Tahlequah currently has 10 boards and three trust authorities. Cherokee County has two county-specific boards.

    July 31, 2014

Poll

Do you think "blue laws" related to Sunday alcohol sales in Oklahoma should be relaxed? Choose the option that most closely reflects your opinion.

Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars, and liquor stores should be open.
Alcoholic drinks should be sold Sundays in restaurants and bars only; liquor stores should stay closed.
Liquor stores should be open Sundays, but drinks should not be served anywhere on Sundays.
The law should remain as it is now; liquor stores should be closed, and drinks should be served on Sundays according to county option.
No alcohol should be sold or served publicly on Sundays.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Stocks