Six years ago, Northwestern’s football team started only one player of color. Presently, one in every five players represents a minority background.
Defense Coordinator, Matthew McCarty, is thrilled to see the increase of diversity on the team. Although most NW students would agree, they may be beginning to question where affirmative action comes into play.
Affirmative action, considered by some to be “reverse racism”, can be defined as policies or programs designed to counter discrimination against minority groups in areas such as employment or education, according to dictionary.com. Affirmative action is an extremely controversial issue – some praise it for speeding the efforts of integration, while others renounce it for being unfair, outdated or unnecessary.
In any case, many question NW’s recruitment efforts on the matter.
Coach McCarty, who is also NW’s Director of Athletic Recruitment, says that although the increase of diversity on the football team has been a great thing, it didn’t happen intentionally.
Kyle Achterhoff, head football coach listed the three things he looks at when recruiting players for his team: athletic ability, academic achievement, and whether or not the student will be a good fit for NW. Often, Achterhoff’s decision comes down to that final factor.
Achterhoff has spent many Friday nights watching area high school football games and afterwards talking to the coaches about prospective recruits. Many times he sees a great athlete, but immediately drops his interest after talking to their coach and learning that great player has a poor work ethic or negative attitude.
When asked if his decision in targeting recruits was ever motivated by ethnicity, Achterhoff said “No, color doesn’t matter.” His recruitment standards remain proudly unbiased in any direction.
While the football coaches claim to not target minorities, admissions says otherwise.
“Of course we’re trying to recruit minorities!” said Ron De Jong, who is the VP of External Relations and temporarily serving as the Dean of Enrollment. “We’re interested in having as diverse of a student body as we can.”
However, these recruitment efforts can hardly fall into affirmative action’s “unfair” stereotype.
NW has lately been increasing its efforts to get its name out in states with greater minority populations, such as southwestern states, including Texas and Florida. Getting more information out about NW, its mission and its message, is the best way to draw in a larger variation of students.
It is a common misconception that students with a minority background receive special financial incentives to attend NW.
Eric Anderson, the Director of Financial Aid, clearly outlined NW’s policy to provide aid to students who need it most, or deserve it for their academic or extra-curricular achievements.
Although there are some scholarships specifically set aside for minorities, school awards, such as the Peale scholarships, are given with an unbiased and indiscriminate eye.