A group of high schoolers got quite a lesson in politics this week. Twenty-two students from around the state staged a “mock” Iowa Legislature, and passed a bill that would get rid of affirmative action programs at Iowa’s public universities, prohibiting the schools from using race or ethnicity as a factor in granting admission or scholarships. Governor Tom Vilsack participated in the exercise and vetoed the fake bill, surprising of the students. Seventeen-year-old Tayna Gardner of Ottumwa says the governor misunderstood their intentions. Gardner says affirmative action was established to give students an equal shot at college, regardless of their race. She believes college applications should not ask students what their race is. Fifteen-year-old Phil Ward of Iowa City says the students just wanted to create a level playing field for everybody. Ward says if people don’t know that someone is African American, then they can’t discriminate against them when it comes to admitting them to college. Vilsack had to explain to the students why he vetoed their anti-affirmative action proposal. Vilsack says affirmative action was established partly to have a better “mix” of people in a college setting, to put white students in contact with people who are not like them. The students endorsed another proposal which would only allow smoking restaurants after nine o’clock at night. The governor endorsed that idea.
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