Patriot Debate: Affirmative action
March 23, 2016
Lowering standards hurts everyone
Affirmative action is not harmless. The same affirmative action that looks to help minorities puts others at a disadvantage.
Affirmative action is defined by “Merriam-Webster Dictionary” as “the practice of improving the educational and job opportunities of members of groups that have not been treated fairly in the past because of their race, sex, etc.” With that in mind, anyone interested in the college admissions process must understand this as well.
With affirmative action, schools and employers take race into consideration so that minority students are able to attend schools that would otherwise deny their admission. Universities shape their admission policies to allow for more discrete racial bias by switching to what is often called “a holistic review.”
The holistic review of the applications allows universities to justify comparing students that are like apples and oranges, then choosing whichever they like more.
While it is often argued that Caucasian applicants are negatively affected by affirmative action, representation of caucasian applicants after landmark Supreme Court cases, such as the University of California v. Bakke, suffers negligible effects. Instead, Asian applicants’ standards are dramatically increased while other minority standards are dramatically decreased.
These “mismatched” students are not only unprepared for their top-tier Ivy League schools, but they are also setting off a chain reaction of lowered standards. The better the school is, the larger the difference in the students who get in through affirmative action.
This is worrisome when studies show, for black students, SAT scores are a significantly more accurate way of predicting college GPA, which could lead to employment opportunity issues down the road.
It is gross negligence of basic human understanding for universities to admit students with dramatically lower qualifications, who they know will not do as well. The number of students accepted under affirmative action is equal to the number of more-qualified students rejected. This is true because most universities calculate the number of students they will admit based on the number of students who decided to matriculate out of the prior year’s applicants.
Affirmative action by its definition implies exceptions based on race to make up for past wrongs. To move forward and eliminate prejudices, allowing students held to lower-standards into higher institutions should not even be considered, especially because surrounding individuals with minorities who are less qualified perpetuates such prejudices. Racial exceptions in admissions through affirmative action are like saying, “Sorry we persecuted you.”
True justice can only be served by bringing up the lower class and ending prejudices. To help race equality, legislature should focus on helping the impoverished that are still affected by past and present inopportunity, not by allowing minority students an exception for diversity’s sake.
The search for a solution to racial, social, and economic equality should not begin at the college level. Real affirmative action would be implementing help to primary schools in low-income areas and enabling a better educational foundation by reinforcing a culture of learning that will promote learning even out of school and allow prejudices to die with the generation that sustained them.
Minorities suffer from disadvantages
Bewildered in my first week of kindergarten, I raise my hand attempting to tell my teacher that I need to use the restroom. She can’t comprehend my jumbled English and Gujarati, an Indian dialect. I feel ashamed and relieve myself in my pants. I have one of the most embarrassing moments in my life because I didn’t know the word bathroom.
Because my parents are immigrants, I didn’t learn English until my first years of school. Like many other first-generation students, my parents struggled with English, so it was up to me to teach myself the language. We never spoke English at home. Twelve years later, English is still never spoken at my house.
Surely, every American agrees that all legal residents deserve equal opportunity to live the American Dream. By that logic, affirmative action simply makes sense.
According to The Leadership Conference, President Lyndon B. Johnson said in 1965, “You do not take a person who, for years, has been hobbled by chains and liberate him, bring him up to the starting line of a race and then say you are free to compete with all the others, and still just believe that you have been completely fair.”
The chains which Johnson referred to are still hobbling minorities today. Children of immigrants battle adversity by experiencing two cultures simultaneously. Children have parents who struggle with English daily. They have parents that cannot help them with school, even the smallest assignments. They have to be the ones helping their parents instead.
Being put in the situation where you have to write your first essay in second grade and, instead of asking your parents to edit your essay, they ask you to read a portion of a business letter to them is unparalleled. Minorities who experience this deserve and earn having special recognition when applying to colleges and jobs.
Affirmative action extends to more than just minority immigrants, it includes women as well. It gives these students opportunities with colleges and future employers. It allows for their unspoken struggles to be taken into real consideration, struggles that affect minority children every day.
Sure, affirmative action has changed since 1965, but as with every other law, it has adapted sufficiently to meet the needs of the American people.
Affirmative action still functions similarly to how it did in 1965 in its original mission of ending racism. America has grown and become more diverse, but racism is still an issue.
Unfortunately, it will be an issue for years to come. Whether it is the Baltimore riots or stereotyping Muslims as terrorists, racism is still alive today.
Objectively it is true that there is still stereotyping and racism occurring that seems ignored. One example is Riley Cooper using racial slurs towards his Philadelphia Eagles teammates and receiving no punishment.
Acts of racism and ignorance of the adversity minorities face leads directly to the rash judgement of affirmative action as “reverse discrimination.”
Take a walk in a minority’s shoes, remove yourself from the comfort of your prototypical American household with educated parents who have mastered English, and tell me it’s not a whole different world. The day you can successfully live a minority’s life with relative ease will be the day affirmative action will no longer be needed in the greatest nation in the world. Until then, keep your ignorance to yourself.