comments on SAT bias off target
University has recently made strides to promote diversity on-campus,
through revisions to the Diversity Plan and hiring Mr. Harry Williams,
the newly appointed associate vice-chancellor for Diversity. Although
the effects of these changes may take many years to show, I believe
they are steps in the right direction.
Appalachian is a predominantly white school, and obviously diversity
is desperately needed.
I applaud the efforts of the administration to create a more diverse,
and I think more interesting, campus. College isnt just about
learning in the classroom, its about learning through meeting
new people and having different points of view presented to you. If
were all coming from basically the same background, thats
not much of an experience.
However, one problem I have with the new push for diversity is it seems
to me that these efforts are going primarily towards attracting only
African Americans. While we obviously would benefit from more students
of this race, dont we want all races, creeds and cultures at Appalachian?
Shouldnt the efforts be towards all possible minority students,
from African American to Latino to Asian and even as far as sexual diversity?
Every time I have heard someone talk of the need for diversity on campus,
the only race that gets discussed is African American, and I think both
the administration and especially Mr.
Williams needs to remember that, while we need to recruit more African
Americans, there are many other cultures out there also.
In last Thursdays paper, in a story about the Diversity Plan,
Vice President-elect Ezell Williams offered her opinion on why the minority
population at Appalachian is so low. While I do agree with Ezell that
one reason is the small number of minority teachers and staff, the rest
of the article left me absolutely livid.
A reason for lack of diversity cited in the plan is that some African
Americans and Latinos are unable to achieve the minimum SAT scores required
for admission into Appalachian. Several studies have proven that
the SATs are racially biased, and this is why minorities have
trouble getting better scores, said the vice president-elect.
I thought it was interesting that she did not offer the names, dates
or issuers of these studies. Ezell went on to cite an example of this
bias that she witnessed during her own experience with the SAT.
For example, when I took the test I was given a question about
tennis. It just so happened that I played tennis, but many African Americans
dont, said Williams. Its not that African Americans
arent competent, its that the test is biased.
So, let me get this straight. Because Im white, does that mean
I play tennis? If the question was about basketball, a predominantly
African American sport, would that make the question race-biased towards
whites? I think not. Also, last time I checked, the SAT was on math
and English, so Im taking a wild guess that this question was
along the lines of a word problem or an analogy and knowledge about
the actual sport was not needed to answer it.
It seems to me that the vice president-elect is more interested in generalizing
or stereotyping then trying to make a difference at Appalachian, and
I personally find it offensive.
I would like to say that I did try to contact Ezell to discuss and possibly
clarify her comments, but I was unable to get in touch with her by press
In closing, I know this is a very touchy subject and some readers are
going to brand me as a racist, which is about the farthest thing from
I personally dont care if youre black, white or purple as
long as youre a good person. However, please feel free to email
or come by the Appalachian office. I would be happy to discuss the column
with anyone who wants to talk.
administration lagging in rape prevention?
the Committee for Integrity at Appalachians report on rape and
sexual assault on campus, I think the numbers were the first thing
to strike me.
Just in case
you havent heard, approximately one in 18 women currently here
at Appalachian State University have been raped since enrolling, one
in seven sexually assaulted.
Out of the 6,703 undergraduate women at Appalachian State, 992 have
394 have been raped.
These are not just numbers.
They are human individuals with their own lives. Every single one
of them is someones daughter, sister, lover or friend.
This is not the first time rape and sexual assaults at Appalachian
have been in the news.
In 1996, according to an article in the (Raleigh) News & Observer
an Appalachian student reported being raped by three men at a fraternity
party, another by an acquaintance in her out-of-state apartment.
Nothing was heard from the administration in the days following the
Finally, in response to a march by over 500 people through the streets
of Boone, the administration sponsored a series of forums.
If you are not in control of your life through indulgence in
alcohol and drugs, said Chancellor Dr. Francis T. Borkowski
in the News & Observer article, then you are setting yourself
up [for rape].
A smaller group then marched on the administration building, angered
at the apparent emphasis on blaming the victim, only to be stopped
at the steps of the building with locked doors, closed shades and
That was the icing on the cakeand so telling, said
one faculty member at the time.
Chancellor Borkowski had previously left his position as president
of the University of South Florida in 1993 after a scandal over rape
allegations against a student athlete.
According to a 1993 article in The Charlotte Observer Borkowski at
one point referred to the rape allegation as a lovers
quarrel and the athlete continued to play while five additional
allegations of assault or harassment mounted.
In early 1997 at Appalachian, a student said she was raped by at least
six football players while heavily intoxicated. Under North Carolina
law, sex with someone too incapacitated or intoxicated to give their
consent qualifies as rape.
According to a 1997 News & Observer article, the judicial board
acquitted all of the players of forcible sexual offense, which would
have resulted in them being expelled. They found five guilty only
of lewd conduct, one was suspended and the others simply couldnt
play football while on probation.
Afterwards five of the players sued the woman for libel and slander
(the suit was later dismissed).
Yet again, protests erupted on campus.
An editorial in the News & Observer concerning the incident, titled
Too Cruel for School, rightly said, The secrecy
that university officials seek to protect serves neither the students,
the public nor the university well. It raises questions about whether
due process is being observed and whether the university accurately
portrays the level of campus safety.
So, acting with typical aggressiveness, the administration formed
a task force to study the matter.
To their credit, some positive steps were taken, but most of the task
forces recommendations that involved any amount of money were
What about today?
In the past four years, according to the CIA survey, only two rape
cases have been tried by Judicial Affairs.
A resident advisor I spoke with concerning how they were encouraged
to deal with cases of rape said their first priority was to get the
student to the Counseling Center, and they were to encourage the student,
but it was not required, to report the rape to the police.
There is no specific protocol, she confirmed, for R.A.s to deal with
cases of rape.
While the football players accused of rape were suspended or put on
probation, students so much as carrying pepper spray to defend themselves
risk suspension or expulsion.
Are these the words, attitudes and deeds of an administration doing
all they can to prevent, punish and stop rape at Appalachian State?
As the statistics in the CIA report, the history of rapes and the
administrations reaction at this campus confirm, campus rape
has been and is still a far larger problem than nearly anyone wants
To be fair to the administration, rape and sexual assault are epidemic
problems in campuses across the nation. Both the majority of attackers
and their victims are students, and so, if this problem is ever to
be truly fought, it must be through the actions of students in changing
attitudes and trying to stop rape at an individual level.
But one of the administrations prime responsibilities is to
do all they can to assure the safety of students from this kind of
Are they living up to it?
ASUs current three-strike policy lacking
happens when an Appalachian student who is a non-athlete is caught using
On the first offense of manufacturing, selling, possessing, or using illegal
drugs, the student is suspended from enrollment for at least one semester
or its equivalent, according the Code of Student Conduct. On the second
offense, the student is expelled.
What happens when an Appalachian student who is an athlete is
caught using drugs?
Instead of immediate consequences, a three-strike system is in place within
the Athletic Department, where only on the third offense do athletes suffer
serious repercussions of their actions.
This allows athletes to make their own mistakes and live with their decisions,
said Director of Athletics Roachel Laney.
Student athletes at Appalachian are randomly tested for illegal drug use.
If they are found to have used such drugs, judicial affairs is not notified,
rather the issue is dealt with within the Athletic Department.
This slap-on-the-wrist system is in place to identify people who
have a problem and help them, said Dr. Patricia Geiger, a university
physician who oversees the results. The goal is rehabilitation.
And this is a noble goal. Drug testing itself may serve as a deterrent
to drug use in Appalachian athletics, and giving students opportunities
to learn from their mistakes may prevent future problems for the individual.
However, we feel this plan poses a few problems.
The most blatantly erroneous part of this system is the inconsistency
it creates between the way a non student-athlete and a student athlete
are treated. For a student to be excluded from consequences designed for
all enrolled students of Appalachian because they play a sport shows a
problem with priorities.
Drug usage among any student, especially those that represent the university
in a very public way, is unacceptable and deserving of punishment. College
students already know this fact. Drug usage should not be tolerated as
an opportunity for a learning experience.
Student athletes, under the three-strike system, also know that if caught
with drugs, they will be given another chance. Despite the opportunity
for rehabilitation and helping a student to change this system creates,
we feel it does not create the chance for a student to learn accountability
Actions have consequences. We encourage university officials to take drug
usage among all Appalachian students and drug testing among athletes in
a very serious manner. NCAA drug testing, which immediately makes a student
athlete ineligible for a year after the date of the test and is thus taken
much more seriously than in-house testing, should be an example to emulate
of creating standards and exacting consequences.