Redo pamphlet

Like many members of the university community, I recently received a copy of NIU’s pamhlet on “Affirmative Action,” which proclaims the university’s commitment to equal employment opportunity.

It includes a statement by President La Tourette that: “We cannot segment (our) citizenry or divide our work force by gender, race, age, national origin, sexual preference, or handicapping condition and still accomplish our goals as an institution or as a nation”; this proclaims a race-blind, sex-blind, age-blind, etc., ideal.

But it also includes the following: “Affirmative action requires the employer to do more than ensure employment neutrality. As the phrase implies, affirmative action requires employers to make additional efforts to recruit, employ, and promote qualified members of groups formerly excluded.”

Thus affirmative action requires precisely that “segmenting and dividing” that President LaTourette deplored. Moreover, “employment neutrality” surely means the same as “equal employment opportunity”; to “go beyond” his would seem to be to give some people greater opportunities than others.

It does not become a university to practice doublespeak; to say, in effect: “Equal opportunity for everyone, but the opportinuties of some to be more equal than those of others.” I hope the university administrators responsible for this pamphlet will appreciate the inconsistency they have fallen into, and will redo the pamphlet in a more thoughtful manner.

Note that I am not criticizing the affirmative action policies of the university; indeed, I do not know in any detail what the university’s practice in this area is. I am complaining only that the pamphlet stating those policies betrays traces of confusion or dishonesty, which ought to be removed.

James L. Hudson

Associate Professor of Philosophy