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Access Type

Open Access

Degree Program


Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded

January 2008

Month Degree Awarded



Colleges and universities in the United States have attempted for years to implement policies and procedures to promote racial diversity in their student bodies, as well as to ensure reflective minority representation in student programs at their institutions. I have done an independent evaluation assessment of the necessity and program theory for a policy aimed at assuring diversity of the undergraduate student government at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, covering the period 2003-2005. The policy in effect during those years was a system which guaranteed minority representation reasonably mirroring the known minority population of the undergraduate student body by reserving 13 percent of Senator positions in the Student Government Association for students affiliated with the African, Latino/a, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American caucus. The policy intent was to achieve campus fair and just minority representation in UMass student government. In reality, however, that policy produced unintended consequences instead – bitter, and sometimes violent racial tensions, and widespread and prolonged charges of reverse and illegal discrimination. As a result of this evaluation of that policy, and its attendant procedures for implementation, in the conclusion I offer recommendations which would allow UMass to replace a problematic policy with one which could achieve reflective minority representation in student government acceptable to, and supported by, the majority of the undergraduate population.

First Advisor

Michael Lewis

Second Advisor

Joya Misra