By: DeVol Tyson II
On Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, the Gamma Eta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. sponsored an event on the topic “Affirmative Action: Black Privilege or White Responsibility,” at the Kelley School of Business. The event featured keynote speaker Amrita Chakrabarti Myers, associate professor in the Indiana University Department of History and included a question and answer session for attendees.
Members of the fraternity started the event by asking the audience a question: “What is Affirmative Action?”
After a short discussion, Myers began her presentation. She outlined the history of Affirmative Action in the United States and included examples such as an uproar in California about the abolition of Affirmative Action at public institutions. Myers also stated that white women benefit most from Affirmative Action.
During the event, fraternity members asked the audience questions such as “What experiences have you had with Affirmative Action on campus or in the workplace?” and “Is Affirmative Action something to be proud of?” The questions prompted serious and sometimes heated responses and debates among attendees. Several audience members offered personal testimonies.
According to Evan Ferrell, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, Affirmative Action is like a basketball game. In his opinion, it does not give blacks an extra five points at the beginning. It gives them the chance to have an equal opportunity.
Before the event, Cordaryl Taylor, also a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, said he wanted the event to be fun, interactive and intellectual. He wanted people to leave informed and to think about how Affirmative Action affects minority students.
When asked by an audience member, “How has Affirmative Action helped you?” Myers said that she originally did not know about Affirmative Action. The Canadian-born professor noted that she did not experience the types of issues that minorities in America experienced when she was going to school.
When asked if Affirmative Action is still needed, Myers stated that (minorities) do not live in a post-racial society, and until society is colorblind, Affirmative Action will always be needed.
Andrew Adeniyi, president of the Gamma Eta chapter, said that before the event, he expected people’s ideas on Affirmative Action to be incorrect. He also said that he wanted people to be adamant about their opinions. Adeniyi claimed that Affirmative Action is “very much” needed because it provides minorities with an equal playing field and it helps minorities get a foot in the door.
Victoire Iradukunda, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., said that she has always taken advantage of Affirmative Action. She recalled being the only African-American in her classes, sports and jobs. She claimed that even though she may have gotten opportunities because of Affirmative Action, she worked hard to keep her positions and advance in life. Iradukunda also said that the way to get people to act is to enlighten them.
There were more than 40 attendees at the event and the diverse audience included people of different races, socio-economic backgrounds and professions. The members of the Gamma Eta Chapter plan to facilitate more events throughout the year and asked everyone there to follow them on twitter at @IU_ALPHAS.