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Point of View

Affirmative Action: Yay or Nay?
Posted by Trevor Roberts on May 3, 2014 - 6:28:56 AM

UNITED STATES—This is a debate that has been spewing for years and it looks like things are about to get even more heated. The United States Supreme Court recently upheld a ban based on affirmative action policies in the state of Michigan that may have ripple effects across the country.

 

For those not in the know, affirmative action is policy used to assure that more diversity takes place in the educational arena, particularly in higher education.  Its goal is to help minorities at the collegiate level, as well as those who are seeking graduate and post doctoral degrees. Some have argued that affirmative action is nothing more than reverse discrimination.

 

I must admit I am equally torn on the issue because it was something I tackled as an undergraduate. What a lot of people are unaware in regards to affirmative action is its aim to not solely help minorities, but Caucasian women.  A larger factor of affirmative action was to create equality amongst Caucasian women and Caucasian men.  Within the last 15 years, affirmative action policies became the forefront of a movement in several states that have banned such policies over outcry that it allows less qualified students entry into college over more qualified applicants.

 

This is the primary problem with those advocating against it or in some cases for it. There are quite a few people who have entitlement issues. In the state of Michigan, Jennifer Gratz pushed the movement for the ban of affirmative action policies after she was denied admission to graduate school at the University of Michigan. She believed that she was denied acceptance because of affirmative action which allowed inferior students to gain admission.

 

This is a BIG ISSUE. People need to get over this entitlement factor. No one is ENTITLED to get this job or to get accepted to this school.  Having that type of mentality is the biggest issue our country faces, we’re too entitled, too privileged. Be humble; be happy you have the opportunity to even attend school. Heck, there are countries where going to school is not even an option, so don't make a ruckus because you didn’t get into the school of your choice because you THOUGHT you had top tier grades and test scores.

University_of_Michigan_1.jpg
The University of Michigan was at the forefront of the affirmative action debate.


Guess what, that’s not all that college admissions groups examine. They look at the overall picture: grades, GPA, test scores, leadership ability, sports, extracurricular activities, activism, and volunteer work to name a few. You can score the best scores in the world, but that should not grant you automatic acceptance. Why? Well at the end of the day it’s just a test score. Like in last week’s column regarding the ACT and SAT, it’s a predictor, it’s not a guaranteed factor of how things will transpire. The more people acknowledge that, the better. A test is not universal; it doesn’t apply equally to all even though we’d love to think they do. 

 

We can sit here and debate all the ins and outs of affirmative action we want, but the one thing we can’t debate is the alarming number of minorities attending college. The numbers are reaching epic lows. Affirmative action policies in states like California, Michigan and Colorado have decreased the number of minorities on various college campuses. No one can look at me and say that minorities fail to have the same skill requirements as their Caucasian counterparts because it’s just not true. I am an alumnus of Michigan State University and something that may alarm people is the ratio of Caucasian students to minorities.

 

Back when I was an undergraduate at the school, there was something around 40,000 plus Caucasian students compared to maybe 4,000 minorities. Yes, go ahead and do the math for that in your head. Can you see the disparity? Trust me I know I did. Nothing is more frustrating than to take a class and to be the sole black person, Asian or Hispanic in the classroom. To some degree you feel out of your element, but the alarming factor is the level of ignorance that other student’s exhibit. No one wants to admit this, but we are a segregated country.

 

Yes, we’ve made great strides to creating diversity, but we are not even close to the place that we should be. There are other races in the country and people need to learn how to teach their children about that. Otherwise, the interaction they encounter will be based solely on what they’ve seen depicted on television, in movies, in music or on the nightly newscast. The college campus is an opportunity to diversify one’s horizons.

 

I can’t tell you how many times I would hear racist and ignorant comments in the classroom and to have a professor not acknowledge them was alarming. More frustrating is the issue of when a heated discussion did occur based on racial issues, it was an all out war and things could have gotten bad really quickly without the right intervention. I don’t believe affirmative action is about allowing one who is ‘less’ qualified as many people like to deem; those who think they are ENTITLED to acceptance over another, it’s a system to bring more diversity in the classroom environment; something that is lacking.

 

I do believe the University of Michigan’s point system was outrageous and should have never been implemented, but we have to ask ourselves the question what we can do to ensure diversity on college campuses. The number of minorities is lacking at alarming rates, if affirmative action is not the answer, than will someone please share an idea on what we can do to level the playing field. Its 2014, what in the world are we waiting for?



 

Cliffside Malibu

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