I would add that I think people really need to be careful with assuming who may have been admitted based on race. I think those are very few and rare circumstances. Affirmative action has actually benefited white women more than it has any other minority group. It's to the point where some people think that any minority (African-American) sitting in class was admitted based on race, and that's a travesty to think that way because it's definitelynot true. Many African Americans earned and fight their way through college just as any other person does.
I disagree. I've sat in college courses with those who had been given a free ride solely based on their culture and color, and watched them fail, because they could not handle the academic load. Admissions should be based on merit, regardless of the student's background. If they can do the work, they should have the choice to attend. As #3 points out, if merit is the sole criteria and that skews the student demographic to 50% of one group, so what? All those students earned a position there!
The benefits of race-sensitive admissions are that it, in theory at least, ensures that all students, irrespective of the colour of their skin or their racial background, have the same opportunity to study in whatever college they wish. Of course, ensuring a multicultural group of students also increases the learning opportunities for students as a whole, as exposure to different cultures and ethnicities can only enrich a learning environment.
Many of the arguments purporting to be for race-sensitive admissions could also be used against race-sensitive admissions. If academics is to be judged on merit alone, we would not have race-sensitive admissions at all. The purpose of current practices is not just to give everyone an opporutnity but to ensure a diverse student body. This doesn't necessarily mean the highest merit students will be admited. A diverse student body provides a more well rounded education than a non-diverse student body. It exposes students to other cultures and ideals. Of course, some schools feel that the merit of the students and the levels of knowledge/achievement should be weighed over diversity. A school focused on in this direction will take other steps to ensure its students receive a rounded, cultural education.
Like the above posts state, race-sensitive admissions are used to insure that students are not prejudiced against regarding their ethnic background. Like jobs, academics should be looked at based upon merit alone. There should not be any other factors used at all.
Another argument for the importance of race-sensitive admissions is that it protects non-white students. In other words, it ensure that a school is looking at all candidates irrespective of the color of their skin. As you know, America does not have a great track record in the past of race relations.
An argument against race-sensitive admissions is that it hurts some races from being admitted. For example, Asians get hurt the most. If Asian were thrown into the general pool 50% of elite schools would be Asians, but as it stands there is a quota. The University of California is one of the few schools that is based on merit alone and they have nearly 50% Asians - UCLA and Berkeley.
In favor is that they are necessary to make up for past discrimination and to create a student body that is diverse. The second one is the one that is more used today. The argument is that students of all races benefit from going to school with people of many different races. This helps to prepare them for life in the contemporary US.