The Attack on Affirmative Action Is Simple and Powerful -- and Wrong

Julie A. Peterson, Lisa M. Rudgers, Inside Higher Ed, Aug 15, 2017
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Affirmative action swept through the Canadian university system 30 years ago without causing too much disruption. But it did impact me as when looking for my first academic job I was faced with the first wave of "we encourage women and minorities" notices on placement advertisements. I have always been in favour of affirmative action. I was then, and I am now. But it struck me that the target has always been misplaced. The incumbent white male professors who benefited from the old boys network were untouched. People entering the workforce carried the load. And that's still the danger of such programs today. Those in power, the old, the wealthy and the legacy, maintain their privilege. Affirmative action tends to touch only the young, the poor, and the disadvantaged. Social justice cannot focus only on one issue at a time; it requires a systemic approach. There is no justice unless there is justice for all.

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