National Affirmative Action Day was celebrated at Portland State University on Wednesday, Oct. 30 in the newly remodeled Smith Memorial Student Union Parkway Commons North.
ASPSU vice president Dune Zhu said that this was a national event. “I want to emphasize national,” Zhu said.
The goal of the presentation was to dispel the myths about affirmative action and to educate the students about the facts of affirmative action.
Oregon’s neighboring states, California and Washington, have abolished their affirmative action practices.
According to Jesse Shapiro, ASPSU senator and a member of the Oregon Students of Color Coalition, California eliminated affirmative action in 1996 and Washington did so in 1997.
Shapiro said that since those states banished affirmative action practices from higher education, the numbers of African American and Latino students have dropped dramatically in the universities.
Shapiro links the declining admissions numbers of students of color to lack of affirmative-action practices.
“If we are saying that racism does not exist, then we are saying that African Americans and Latinos are intellectually inferior,” Shapiro said.
Another portion of the presentation was an overview of affirmative-action resources on campus.
Aimee Shattuck, student development adviser, said that affirmative action protects people from discrimination in any form.
According to Shattuck, there are three formal options for affirmative action for students on campus. There is the Safe Space Network, which deals with issues of sexuality. There are is the Violence Resource Network and the Sexual Harassment Network.
The last major focus of Affirmative Action Day at Portland State was the push to get black studies counted as a major. Currently, students are only able to receive a certificate in black studies.
Shapiro said that it is not enough to use affirmative action in admission rates and the recruitment and retention of staff. He said that affirmative action needs to be in the curriculum.
There was a poster hung on the wall for students to sign to show their support for affirmative action and their support of affirmative action being represented in the curriculum.
In addition, students were able to call the governor’s office to express their support for affirmative action.
In contrast to last year, there were no university officials in attendance at the presentation. Last year, Devorah Lieberman, vice provost and special assistant to PSU President Daniel Bernstine; and Samuel Douglas, vice provost for student affairs, both briefly spoke at the event.