Affirmative action usually not fair or effective

Elaine Lac

Staff Writer

Affirmative action is well-intended, but it undermines the ability of hard-working Americans. It was meant to help historically discriminated and disadvantaged races gain footing in higher education and better employment. Minorities tend to come from lower economic backgrounds, blocking them from opportunities and perpetuating their economic status. To level the playing field, many universities, for example, are partial to minorities during admission processes.

The recent, heavily debated Supreme Court case of Fisher v. University of Texas will likely redefine higher education preferential racial policies. Current policies allow universities to count race in admission policies holistically. This was previously determined by Grutter v. Bollinger after it was ruled that race could not be a quantified factor in admissions. In other words, affirmative action was overruled, but racial preference in admissions was not.

America was founded on the idea of equal opportunity for all. Affirmative action contradicts this by providing certain races an advantage over other races. It undermines the hard work of all students.

Affirmative action also often places students from lower class backgrounds into entirely different and unfamiliar surroundings where most students are from middle- to upper-class upbringings. This creates issues of integration, and students might struggle socially and make them feel isolated and depressed. Is it worth it?

Introducing diversity is an important goal for many institutions. For many students, college could be the most diverse place they are exposed to. Students from diverse backgrounds provide different perspectives that would be otherwise ignored in homogenous campuses. Students may not understand the issues of people outside of their social class, and understanding these issues allows people to be productive and sympathetic members of society.

The University tries a great deal to introduce diversity through multicultural events, the Posse scholarship program and the like. This is a much needed goal for its development. The University is an excellent educational institute, but the students primarily attracted to the school come from the same backgrounds and areas. Affirmative action seems like a good solution at this point.

It is difficult to consolidate students from diverse backgrounds and academic merit. Students with similar academic credentials tend to have the same upbringing whether they are minorities or not. Racial preference should not be done away with completely, but there needs to be an understanding between those admitted and those rejected. Minority students should be clear about the conditions of their acceptance. Was their race a factor? How do they compare academically? Will they be happy?

The gap between the admitted minority students and non-minority students’ academic performance should be closed. This can be justified either by the quality of their extracurricular activities or potential. Was it comparatively more difficult for one student to achieve honors than another student from an advantaged background? Does this equal harder work?

The Supreme Court will probably reform affirmative action, but not do away with it. It is valuable for diversity, albeit contradictory to American ideals. Sometimes exceptions have to be made for the greater good. In the interest of enriching the overall development of collegiate students, racial preferential policies are needed in higher institutions.

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