Affirmative Action Idiocy

January 2, 2011

Vincenzo Milione, a researcher at the Calandra Italian American Institute, is leading a group of professors and staff members accusing the City University of New York (CUNY) of discrimination because they feel Italian-Americans are not represented well enough among its employees, invoking everything from historical mistreatment to modern media stereotypes to bolster their case. An article in the New York Times covered the story and reveals what's really going on here:

In the presentation, Dr. Milione argued that Italian-American representation on the faculty and the staff had remained flat — between 5 percent and 6 percent — over three decades, while that of groups like blacks, Latinos and Asians had climbed.

"Did affirmative action work at CUNY?" he asked in a recent interview. "Yes. But it did not work for Italian-Americans." The New York office of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that his suit had merit.

CUNY officials said that Dr. Tamburri would not comment, but they defended the university's record. As of last fall, they said, Italian-Americans represented about 7 percent of the full-time instructional staff of 11,000, up from 5.8 percent in 1981. While the increase was modest, it occurred while the proportion of white employees fell sharply, to 54 percent from 74 percent, as the university strove to hire blacks and Latinos.

"Were CUNY not proactively engaging in affirmative action for Italian-Americans, one would expect to see Italian-American representation in CUNY fall at the same rate as that of whites," Jennifer S. Rubain, university dean for recruitment and diversity, said in a statement. "That has not happened."

Like other research universities that receive federal money, CUNY must extend affirmative action hiring protections to a variety of government-designated groups, including blacks and Latinos. University officials say the Department of Labor reviews its progress periodically, but not its efforts for Italian-Americans, because those are voluntary.

Obviously, there's no anti-Italian bias. This is a standard case of mandatory affirmative action for minorities causing an overall drop in white employees. (And Italians are actually faring better than others, as their numbers have increased slightly in spite of that, thanks to voluntary efforts by CUNY.) But instead of faulting the unjust quota policy that passes European-Americans over for jobs, Milione et al. are trying to blame CUNY for the fact that Italians aren't one of the "government-designated groups" who receive affirmative action. A commenter on the NY Times website injects some sanity into the discussion:

I don't see how Italian Americans can qualify for affirmative action programs since Italians are white. Perhaps a claim of reverse discrimination would be more appropriate here.

Indeed. Yet in the article, one of the plaintiffs insists that the problem is specific to CUNY by noting the following:

Joseph V. Scelsa, who was one of the institute's first directors and led the legal fight that resulted in the settlement, said Italian-Americans seemed to be well represented on the staffs of other New York-area colleges, but had long been mistreated at CUNY.

For those unfamiliar, CUNY is New York's public university system, with 70% minority enrollment, and another commenter, himself a CUNY academic, provides a more likely explanation for the observed disparity:

I'm a first-generation Italian-American, a CUNY graduate, and a CUNY faculty member. Italian-Americans may be under-represented at CUNY because, on average, as students, they can afford to go elsewhere and, as adult professionals, they may choose jobs that pay much more and that have more prestige among their upwardly-mobile peers.

So Italian-Americans are doing fine at more prestigious universities without affirmative action, and steering clear of CUNY by choice. Conclusion: Milione and his gang should crawl back into the hole they crawled out of...or at least get a clue and take a page from the New Haven firefighters' playbook.


Crimson Guard said...

I dont endorse affirmative action, as it mainly benefits the Jews, Homosexuals and Blacks. And what Italians earned we earned through hard work, dedication and above all perseverance. We built ourselves up through blood and sweat and today we owe a lot to our family members of 2-3 generations ago.

Having said that, there is certainly scumbag assholes in echelons of power that have bias against Italians because we're a good and hard working people--unfortunately there is some disgraces politicians of Italian or partial Italian descent. Same can be said of other ethnic groups as well. But we have a lot've good politicians and people out there standing up for our ethnicity & communities and rightly so.

Italianthro said...

Affirmative action benefits blacks, Latinos and women. Jews, gays and most Asians don't need it. Neither do Italians or other white ethnics. But they do need to step up and sue for reverse discrimination in cases where they're clearly being passed over for jobs or promotions because of quotas. However, I'm not sure this is one of those cases. It seems almost like trying to force Italians to work at CUNY schools when they don't really want to.

Crimson Guard said...

Here in NY falls into the broad spectrum, which can include the Homosexuals. The NY school system is very corrupt.

Example my old College:

"It is the policy of the Board of Trustees of The City University of New York and Kingsborough Community College to recruit, employ, retain and promote employees and to admit and provide services for students without regard to race, sex, age, national origin, color, religion, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation."

And yeah, some black teachers also teach Afroncentrism.