“Affirmative action” refers to laws first put in place by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 to take race, gender, color, religion, sexual orientation or nationality into consideration when hiring employees or making admissions decisions in education. Affirmative action hoped to “level the playing field” for these underrepresented groups who had been traditionally discriminated against.
Fifty years have passed and many now argue that this “leveling” has been achieved, but many minorities disagree and think the policies should continue. Colleges continue to make affirmative action decisions to ensure diversity on their campuses. Therefore, at times, if two students have similar SAT scores and high school transcripts, the student who is a minority might get admitted because he or she is considered a minority. Should schools continue to admit based on minority status to ensure diversity on their campuses?
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I wish we did not need affirmative action. Personally, I would rather see better educational opportunities for the people who need it. We should be approximately at the point where we can move away from affirmative action and put that dark place in our history behind us. I know that there is still racism though, and still unequal access to quality education.
In many states, what is being called a "holistic" approach is replacing affirmative action since O'Connor modified its constitutionality in 2003 with the University of Michigan case. In California, after state voters disallowed race as an admissions consecration, African-American enrollment dropped to 3 percent, according to The New York Times. It is clear that two groups want (and need) some sort of consideration of students who are not on normal paths to success: these groups are public universities and minority students from troubled schools and neighborhoods. Part of the rationale seems to be that, like in Cry, the Beloved Country, a troubled environment can and does change a youth's prospects, usually for the worse, so as many as possible must be redeemed from their troubled environments and educated, thus paving the way for a growing niche of brighter tomorrows. I agree with this rationale and with the new holistic approach entirely. In fact, the Supreme Court modifications disallowing affirmative action as originally conceived and practiced may have better than intended results as innovative thinkers find new--and better--ways of redeeming the inequalities and injustices of race, ethnicity, poverty, opportunity and environment.
Yes, affirmative action should still be in place today, but its focus should change. So far, we have been equating racial or ethnic minority status with underprivilege and the need for affirmative action. This should end. We have gotten to the point where there are many people of color (such as myself) who have not really suffered from discrimination and neither need nor deserve extra help. However, there is a clear need for income-based affirmative action. There are still plenty of people who are disadvantaged because of economics. They deserve help.
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