Affirmativeaction in universities has been a popularly debated topic for almost half a centuryand continues to be equally controversial and divisive today. It is meant tofoster diversity and provide equal opportunities in education forunderrepresented minorities. It is said to remedy the long legacy of racism inAmerican society. It is also argued to help create tolerant communities becauseit exposes people to a variety of cultures and ideas that are different fromtheir own. It also helps disadvantaged people that come from areas where thereare not many opportunities to be able to advance where they otherwise couldnot. In other words, affirmative action attempts to give people an equalplaying field.
But a prevalent question in this debate is whether or not affirmativeaction helps universities achieve their stated goals. Opponents of affirmativeaction contend that it is reverse discrimination and that it is simply wrong. Theyalso argue that past discrimination against certain minority groups does notjustify present discrimination against non-minorities. Ultimately, they believethat people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and shouldbe treated accordingly and that the best people for a position should be hiredor admitted, regardless of race.
More of its critics point to studentsstruggling to keep up in schools mismatched to their abilities and to the factthat the policy can be manipulated to benefit affluent and middle classstudents that already possess many educational advantages. Defenders and attackers ofaffirmative action often fail to recognize that affirmative action can takemany forms to achieve different goals. Debates on affirmative action frequentlyplace far too much focus on attacking the most extreme forms of it.
If universities used applications that were bothgender and race blind–but not socioeconomically blind–then acceptances would befairer, and would also lead to a student body with a more accurate reflectionof society. California’s public universities area noteworthy example of success with colorblind admissions. They have usedcolorblind admissions for two decades under Proposition 209 which states “Thestate shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, anyindividual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or nationalorigin.” The only thing taken into consideration by admissions, apart from thestudent’s application itself, is the applicant’s socioeconomic status. Thiscolorblind admission system creates college classrooms that are surprisingly afairly accurate cross-section of California’s racial and ethnic diversity. In2017, admitted freshman throughout the UC system were 34% Asian, 33% Latino,24% white and 5% African-American. California’s high school seniors, incomparison, are 52% Latino, 24% white, 11% Asian and Filipino, and 6%African-American. In comparison to the breakdown of the total U.
S. population,white Americans are the racial majority; African Americans, amounting to 13.3%of the population, are the largest racial minority, and Hispanics and LatinoAmericans amount to 17.8% of the total U.S. population, making up the largestethnic minority. Even within the state of California where the breakdown ofrace is different, the percentages are largely the same. But putting aside the success withCalifornia’s admissions policies, socioeconomic status is an importantcomponent to an applicant and an additional piece of information that auniversity should be able to obtain with the student’s application.
Socioeconomicstatus does affect components of an application and should be taken intoconsideration. Socioeconomic status affects a student’s grades as well as theirstandardized test scores. In terms of standardized tests, wealthier studentscan afford tutors, excellent private schools, and advanced calculators. Theyare also likely able to receive help from their parents on homeworkassignments, papers and studying. Lessfortunate students do not have these advantages and therefore tend to scorelower on these types of tests.
When socioeconomic status is taken intoconsideration, students can be assessed more fairly. Does a diverse society depend more onrace or socioeconomic status? People argue that socioeconomic status can be aresult of your race but the reality is that the two are often intertwined.