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Utah 'solves' a fake problem with a double-standard

February 16, 2010 - Mike Maneval

The Utah state legislature is moving fast to add a double-standard to their constitution, and they're not letting the lack of a problem get in the way of their speedy "solution."

Utah state legislator Curtis Oda is proposing an amendment to the state constitution to "forbid state agencies, contractors, universities and colleges from providing preference based on race or sex," according to the Deseret News, a daily newspaper in the Salt Lake metropolitan area. The measure, according to the Deseret News, mandates the state "may not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin with respect to public employment, public education, or public contracting."

Opponents claim the measure was introduced on a compressed schedule to minimize public input.

"We're not getting necessarily the most qualified students there because of the quota system," supporter of the measure and Utah state Senate President Michael Waddoups told Brock Vergakis of the Associated Press.

But, of course, if merit and qualification are truly Waddoups' concerns, he's missing the mark. Why shouldn't Utah ban legacy admissions? Steering a college admission from a more-qualified applicant to one merely born to an alumnus undermines the centrality of merit as much as an affirmative action "quota system" does. Will Utah ban nepotism and cronyism? Shouldn't employers ALWAYS seek the best-qualified workers, or is ignoring merit suddenly acceptable when rewarding friends or family instead of seeking the most capable man or woman?

There is, obviously, a major difference between nepotism and cronyism and affirmative action policies: Nepotism and cronyism actually may be common in Utah. Affirmative action is not. As Vergakis reports, officials at the University of Utah say minorities and women receive no preferential treatment, and state agencies already are under policies prohibiting preferential treatment for women and minorities.


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