Thursday, August 30, 2001

Diversity takes a blow
from Georgia decision

The issue: A federal appeals panel
has struck down the University of
Georgia's admission policy based
on affirmative action, finding it
unconstitutionally discriminatory.

AFFIRMATIVE action takes on a new meaning with each decision in the federal courts, eroding what has been a concerted effort to bring increased numbers of ethnic minorities onto college campuses. Many public universities may have to scrap worthwhile programs aimed at increasing diversity because of legal requirements that could become impossible to meet. It would be helpful if the U.S. Supreme Court clarified its position to allow modest efforts to achieve diversity.

A three-judge federal appeals panel in Atlanta ruled unanimously that the provision for affirmative action in the admissions policy of the University of Georgia was unconstitutional because it had made an applicant's race the determining factor. "Racial diversity is not necessarily the hallmark of a diverse student body, and race is not necessarily the only, or best, criterion for determining the contribution that an applicant might make to the broad mix of experiences and perspectives" that provide diversity, the panel said.

The decision is the latest interpretation of the Supreme Court's 1978 landmark decision in the case of the University of California Regents vs. Bakke, in which Justice Lewis F. Powell declared "ethnic diversity" to be only one aspect of a "heterogeneous student body." Earlier this year, a federal judge struck down the University of Michigan's admission policy of awarding points to minority applicants in an index that combined grade-point average, test scores, geography, leadership and alumni connections.

Colleges and universities in Hawaii have little trouble achieving ethnic variety without an affirmative action formula because of the state's intrinsic racial diversity. Hawaii Pacific University has outdone itself in adding a different and laudable kind of diversity, admitting unusual numbers of students from the mainland and from abroad to achieve the wide range of "cultures, outlooks and experiences" mentioned by the Georgia appeals panel.

However, many public institutions on the mainland with limited staffs find it impossible to weigh each individual's application from the standpoint of diversity, without using a formula that is likely to conflict with the direction of recent court decisions. The Georgia campus, which was off-limits to blacks for its first 160 years, now has an enrollment that is only 6 percent black.

If the Supreme Court upholds the decision scrapping the University of Georgia's modest attempt at creating ethnic diversity, all affirmative action programs may be in trouble. Efforts to counteract centuries of racial discrimination will be allowed to progress only if the high court provides clear and feasible direction.

A long-time Republican
tries on a new hat

The issue: Andy Anderson
leaps into the mix of Democratic
candidates for governor.

If nothing else, D.G. "Andy" Anderson's entry into next year's gubernatorial race would certainly liven up the political scene in Hawaii. The businessman who had long been a leader in the Republican Party now wants to wear the mantle of the opposition party. With two or three potential candidates already crowding the Democratic primary, the tussle should be spirited. For the voters, the more aspirants the merrier.

In explaining his decision, Anderson said he had "spent too many years trying to keep peace" in the GOP, and wanted to surround himself "with people who shared a broader picture." His split with Republicans came after managing Pat Saiki's 1994 gubernatorial bid, which ended with her in third place behind Gov. Ben Cayetano and former Honolulu Mayor Frank Fasi, who ran as an independent.

Before then, Anderson had been a prominent political figure. He served in the state House and the Senate, was the chairman of the Hawaii Republican Party and twice sought the governor's office. In the mid-1980s, he was city managing director under Fasi, with whom he was allied before joining Saiki's campaign.

With roots in the Republican Party, it is curious that Anderson wants to make the switch. It may be that Linda Lingle has already locked up the GOP nomination or that the party has evolved and is no longer a good fit for him. He is known as one to seize an opportunity and it may be that he sees an opening in the jam of Democratic candidates.

Whatever the reason, Anderson has strong political credentials and is considered a good administrator. In recent years, he has turned his attention to running his successful businesses and developing commercial and housing projects. His name has seldom emerged except when his enterprises cast him in the spotlight, as when his proposal to develop the Kakaako waterfront was rejected and put him at bitter odds with Governor Cayetano. Earlier this year, his project for gated homes at Velzyland on Oahu's North Shore found him fending off community opposition.

One of the biggest hurdles Anderson may encounter in his quest is that many people have forgotten him or that younger voters may not be aware of his political history.

"I won't be your father's Democrat," joked Anderson, but it may well be that he will have to count on getting the votes of the fathers and mothers, indeed, the grandfathers and grandmothers. Said state Rep. Barbara Marumoto, "I don't know if any Republicans now would even know who he is."

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

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