Race-Based Elections: Coming to a Campus Near You?

  1. Home
  2. Culture Wars
By Andrew Stiles | 4:16 am, April 21, 2016

In a effort to promote “greater inclusion and representation” on campus, some students at Cornell University have proposed student government elections—based entirely on race.

The Cornell Student Assembly held an open meeting early this month on the topic of “restructuring” to address minority underrepresentation in student government. The assembly has already taken a number of measures intended to address the problem.

For example, the assembly currently includes special liaison positions for minority students, international students, LGBTQ students, female students and first-generation college students. But it was determined that more change was needed to address “the systemic exclusion” of minority voices.

More: White Privilege Conference Too Privileged? 

According to a report in the Cornell Daily Sun, some students complained that the “minority” liaison position was too broad; perhaps each racial minority group should have its own special representative. That suggestion raised questions about who should be allowed to vote for these race-specific positions, and the answer, according to some students, was to install a race-specific voting system.

The Cornell Review reports:

“People in the minority group, not people in the majority group, should choose their representative,” clarified one person to a thunderous round of snaps.

Another student offered the same suggestion on the student assembly’s Facebook page.

The idea was apparently well received, even after one student pointed out that restricting elections based on race was not, strictly speaking, legal in the United States.

One of the problems, it seems, it that the minority liaison race is a hotly contested affair, while most of the assembly seats not based on race are often won uncontested.

According to the Cornell Review, the assembly’s vice president for finance, a white male, suggested this was the case because minority students did not feel comfortable running for the positions that weren’t restricted by race or other minority status. The student reportedly prefaced his remarks with an apology for speaking as a white male.