Mandated or Voluntary Integration?

A letter from President Carrier about implementing Affirmative Action at Madison College, 1973

A letter from President Carrier about increasing the extent of Affirmative Action at Madison College
MC Affirmative Action Plan, 1973

The first African-Americans were accepted at Madison College in 1966, and when Carrier took office as president in 1971, he increased efforts to diversify the population on campus (Jones, 168).  In 1973, an Affirmative Action plan was released by Madison College spelling out its efforts to apply Equal Employment Opportunity to campus.  Carrier’s letter, released with the plan, specifically states that Madison College will attempt to go above and “beyond mere compliance with government enacted regulations” (AA Plan 1973, 3).  He also requires that “each and every person” works together in order to create an environment of equal employment on campus (AA Plan 1973, 3).

Projected Employment by September 1, 1974 MC Affirmative Action Plan, 1973

Projected Employment by September 1, 1974
Madison College only needed to employ 6 more African-Americans to reach population parity
MC Affirmative Action Plan, 1973

One of the main facets of the plan was “population parity,” in which the college would attempt to “maintain a minority work force whose ethnic composition is more or less in direct relationship to the racial mix of our community” (AA Plan 1973, 10).  In 1973, African-Americans made up about 2% of the population in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.  According to the chart on the left, 18 African-Americans were expected to be employed at Madison College by September 1, 1974.  These 18 out of 888 total employees would account for 2% of employment, reaching population parity (AA Plan 1973, 26-27).  It is important to note, however, that in order to reach population parity, Madison College only had to employ 6 more African-Americans, decreasing the effect of Affirmative Action.

"every good faith effort" 1973 AA Plan

“every good faith effort”
Possibly a safeguard against admonition from the government
1973 AA Plan

Another interesting point to the plan is that it often simply states Madison will attempt “every good faith effort” to comply with Affirmative Action.  After Brown v. Board, the Supreme Court case which ordered the integration of public schools, “every good faith effort” was a way to provide the appearance of integration without true compliance.  The use of these words could possibly be a means of ensuring that Madison College received federal funds without truly having to expend a great deal of effort on integration.  Other research makes this unlikely, but it is still interesting that Madison employs this phrase in order to safeguard itself from attacks.

In 1978, another Affirmative Action study was done at James Madison University, because it was deemed that some Virginia public colleges and universities had not achieved as much integration as was desired by the federal government; however, this study dealt more with African-American students than employees.  In Adams v. Califano, it is stated that “in the mid-seventies, black colleges continue to graduate almost forty percent of all blacks who receive college degrees” (AA Plan 1978, 12).  During the 75/76 year at Madison College, out of 1,363 baccalaureate degrees only 10 were awarded to African-Americans, and African-American students enrolling in Madison College for the 76/77 year accounted for only 1% of enrollment (AA Plan 1978).

Baccalaureate Degrees by College, 75/76

Baccalaureate Degrees by College, 75/76
Less than 1% of baccalaureate degrees are being awarded to African-American students.
JMU Affirmative Action Plan, 1978

Interestingly enough, the fact that University of California v. Bakke introduced the idea of reverse discrimination in 1978 probably has something to do with the low level of recruitment.  Reverse discrimination allowed the white majority to claim that universities, such as Madison, were admitting lesser qualified students in order to foster diversity.  In the Reformulation of the Plan for Equal Opportunity, it is stated that “Virginia remains, however, convinced that numerical goals or quotas are not only illegal and unconstitutional, but are indeed potentially detrimental to higher education” (Reformulation, 10).  Bakke ruled that while direct quotas are illegal, diversity is still important to university campuses.  James Madison University seems to abide by these rules, promoting diversity without specific quotas; however, it still seems that they are having trouble fully integrating in 1978.

Works Cited:

Madison College Affirmative Action Plan. Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. 1973.

James Madison University Affirmative Action Plan. Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. 1978.

Jones, Nancy Bondurant. Rooted on Blue Stone Hill: A History of James Madison University. Santa Fe: The Community Foundation of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County and the Center for American Places, 2004.

Reformulation of the Plan for Equal Opportunity. Special Collections, Carrier Library, James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA. 1978.