The Cavalier Daily
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Acting for affirmative action

COLLEGE definitely is for students, but there's no question that it is run by adults. Students like to think that what goes on here revolves around our best interests and involvement in the everyday workings of the University. The truth is, though, that adults make the majority of the University's higher-level decisions because time after time students fail to make their voices heard.

The most recent issue facing the University is whether to omit the consideration of race from admissions policies. From the Center for Equal Opportunity study condemning University admissions policies last spring to the more recent tension between the Board of Visitors and state and the local NAACP chapter, race -- and its legality as an admissions factor -- has weighed on the minds of University administrators.

But more importantly, has it concerned the student body? Sadly, the answer is no. After months of investigation and a myriad of Cavalier Daily articles, student groups only now are coming together -- now that tensions surrounding the issue of affirmative action have risen to the breaking point. It is time for students to start using the maturity we've been clamoring for all these years and influence a decision that will affect the University for years to come. We must ensure that our school stays diverse.

It's a tired concept that is thrown around hastily in conversation, but, as University students, we must continually renew our commitment to student self-governance. No, each and every student does not have run for Student Council. Keeping self-governance alive is much simpler and easier than that. It is best done by getting involved in the University community: donating a little time, signing a petition, or showing up at a rally on the Lawn.

Luckily, students will have many opportunities in coming weeks to make a difference in the debate over affirmative action policies at the University. Tonight at 8 p.m. in Jefferson Hall, Board of Visitors Rector John P. Ackerly III will be speaking and answering questions. The Board is in charge of evaluating and creating policy at the University and is at the forefront of the race issue.

Students should take advantage of this unique opportunity to have their questions answered. This forum is also an effective way to let the Board know the student body's feelings on preserving diversity at the University.

If instead you favor the silent protest, though, Saturday's football contest against rival Virginia Tech is your chance.

The Black Student Alliance, along with other student groups around Grounds, has decided to show its support for diversity at the University by wearing all black to the game. The group will arrive at the game at 3:30 p.m., and will sit in the student section in front of the cheerleaders. These student groups are encouraging all students passionate about the issue to participate. By joining in this visual protest and making it widespread and pronounced, students will demonstrate to the administration and outside parties -- the viewers of the game on national television, and the Virginia Tech contingent, for instance -- that University students are united in keeping college education in Virginia rich in cultural variety.

Lastly, Advocates for Diversity in Education, a student group formed last year, plans to hold an "October Camp" on Oct. 4. The Lawn has been the site of many a protest -- notable events including an anti-apartheid shanty town and last year's rally in support of Sandy Kory. But the Oct. 4 demonstration should go down in history as the one that got through to University administrators. Students of all genders, racial backgrounds and socioeconomic levels should make an effort together to show that each individual -- not their test scores -- makes the University the prestigious school that it has come to be.

College students are apathetic. That fact probably will never change as long as students fight to be given responsibility and then fail to respect and use what they are given. But University students have a wealth of chances to take responsibility and defend affirmative action in the next few weeks. This time let's all be adults and make the decision to keep diversity in education.

(Erin Perucci is a Cavalier Daily associate editor.)


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