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The Appalachian | Archives | 2001-2002

COMMENTARY

VP-elect’s comments on SAT bias off target

Becky DiVerniero

Appalachian State 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 isn’t just about learning in the classroom, it’s about learning through meeting new people and having different points of view presented to you. If we’re all coming from basically the same background, that’s 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, don’t we want all races, creeds and cultures at Appalachian? Shouldn’t 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 Thursday’s paper, in a story about the Diversity Plan, SGA
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 don’t,” said Williams. “It’s not that African Americans aren’t competent, it’s that the test is biased.”

So, let me get this straight. Because I’m 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 I’m 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 time.

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 the truth.

I personally don’t care if you’re black, white or purple as long as you’re 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.


COMMENTARY

Is administration lagging in rape prevention?

David Forbes

When reading the Committee for Integrity at Appalachian’s report on rape and sexual assault on campus, I think the numbers were the first thing to strike me.

Just in case you haven’t 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 been stalked.

394 have been raped.

These are not just numbers.

They are human individuals with their own lives. Every single one of them is someone’s daughter, sister, lover or friend.

394.

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 assault.

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 security guards.

“That was the icing on the cake—and 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 “lover’s 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 couldn’t 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 force’s recommendations that involved any amount of money were rejected.

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 administration’s reaction at this campus confirm, campus rape has been and is still a far larger problem than nearly anyone wants to admit.

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 administration’s prime responsibilities is to do all they can to assure the safety of students from this kind of threat.

Are they living up to it?

 

OUR PERSPECTIVE

Drug testing
ASU’s current three-strike policy lacking

What happens when an Appalachian student who is a non-athlete is caught using drugs?

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 and responsibility.

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.


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