As the Denver Post’s Elizabeth Hernandez reports, an interview at Colorado Public Radio with the controversial sole finalist to be the next President of the University of Colorado, former GOP Rep. Mark Kennedy, took a turn for the embarrassing when he flubbed a basic and essential question about the role of affirmative action in university admissions:
Host Ryan Warner referenced the U.S. Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights requiring Texas Tech University’s medical school to stop considering race in admissions. Warner asked Kennedy what his thoughts were, in general, on affirmative action in Colorado college admissions.
“I have not wrestled with that at a university yet, in that restrictions have not been as — let me go back,” Kennedy told Warner. “Can I just not answer that question?” [Pols emphasis]
No, as the sole finalist for President of the state’s flagship public university, you have to answer that question.
So Mark Kennedy did. And it was not a good answer:
Kennedy told Warner the question caught him off guard and followed up with: “I think however we do admissions, it has to be done in a way to recognize that diversity provides a benefit to all and there are many ways of doing that.”
While it’s true that diversity among student bodies is beneficial to everyone, affirmative action is most certainly and foremost meant to benefit the minority groups who have been historically underrepresented in higher education. To inartfully dance around this central fact, especially after trying to avoid the question entirely, is problematic to say the least–you might call it the college admissions equivalent of “all lives matter.”
Kennedy later told the Post that the reason for these troubling answers to a very straightforward question were the result of him worrying about being late to his next appointment, and “clarified” that affirmative action should result in neither “undue benefit or undue penalty.” Unfortunately that clarification doesn’t clarify much of anything–and honestly sounds more like a swipe against what affirmative action is, you know, all about.
Fair to say that if you’re one of the CU students protesting your new “sole finalist,” your concerns were not allayed.