UT students speak out

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – More than 100 students, faculty and community activists gathered on the steps of the College of Law at the University of Tennessee (UT) here Nov. 30 to protest the pending dismantlement of affirmative action in higher education.

UT law student Dumaka Shabazz denounced the nationwide assault on affirmative action and called for vigilance, organization and struggle to counter forces trying to turn back the gains of recent decades. He reminded the group of the adverse impact recent anti-affirmative action measures have had on the diversity of the student body at the UC/Berkeley law school.

Court-imposed quotas and supervision were lifted in January, 2001, as part of the settlement of Geier v. Sundquist, a lawsuit filed in 1968 by Rita Sanders Geier, then instructor at Tennessee State University. Geier sued the State of Tennessee to end what she described as a “dual system of education,” i.e. de facto segregation.

The settlement, praised by many in the state, could have the effect of permitting Tennessee institutions of higher education to revert to discriminatory action against minorities without fear of legal challenge in the courts.