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Affirmative Action Advances Racial Equality in Education

Posted: 05/01/2012 6:35 pm

By Alex Turner of TCU Daily Skiff

Affirmative action benefits anyone who is not a Caucasian male. There is a misconception that African-Americans are the only group that benefits from affirmative action and that class, gender and race inequalities do not exist in our society.

These inequalities are indeed still in place in our society. However, if one is not able to recognize his or her own privilege, then they will always carry this ignorant perception that all a person needs in this society to succeed is a strong work ethic and intelligence. If you believe this and make this argument in response to affirmative action, then you are indeed falsely conscious about the problems in the system.

Yet some politicians that are against affirmative action make similar statements.

They reference the "American Dream" and how having a strong work ethic can improve your life. The irony is that some politicians will point to Central and South American immigrants who are business owners as examples of people with strong work ethics that achieved the American Dream, then (when the topic switches to illegal immigration) demonize the people they were just praising by claiming they are unfairly taking advantage of the country's resources and that they should be deported if they arrived illegally.

If that is the case, then it's not the American Dream they obtained, but more akin to the American Nightmare that Malcolm X so eloquently described.

Critics of affirmative action may be ecstatic to learn that the Supreme Court will review the legislation with only eight justices, five of which are conservatives. Critics argue that the legislation creates an unfairness based on race, which ironically hurts the purpose of the act.

Others argue that it hurts minorities by placing them in institutions that they are not adequately prepared to handle. The Supreme Court will hear the case of Fisher v. University of Texas.

The case began in 2008 when Abigail Fisher and Rachel Michalewicz were denied acceptance into the University of Texas.

Fisher argues that she has been a "victim of the university's race-conscious admission policies; the university contends that its drive for racial and ethnic diversity is educationally enriching -- a benefit to all students."

Justice Sandra Day O'Connor wrote the majority opinion in the 2003 affirmative action case concerning the University of Michigan Law School, Grutter v. Bollinger.

Her opinion now will be directly challenged by her replacement, Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative who believes that race-conscious admission policies are no longer necessary.

Understanding that precedent will not play a major role in this case, I believe that this is a ploy by the Supreme Court to finally deliver a deafening blow to affirmative action. I am a proponent for racial equality at any cost, and there should be revisions to affirmative action to ensure the promotion of this.

Yet many seem to believe the standards of acceptance are lowered for minorities and considering a person's race in the college admission process gives an unfair advantage to non-Asian minorities. However, according to University of Texas' ethnicity of freshman class in 2011, 48 percent were white, 21 percent were Hispanic, 18 percent were Asian, 5 percent black and 4 percent were considered foreign.

The data shows that only 26 percent of the enrollment at UT for 2011 are non-Asian minorities. How does this signify an advantage for Latinos and African-Americans if these students meet the criteria for the university and are only a quarter of the enrollment?

The problem lies in the reasoning. In the case of Fisher, if a minority is accepted over a Caucasian but has a lower SAT or ACT score, then that person was admitted simply on the basis of race.

This reasoning ignores other factors that come into play when analyzing a student, such as community service and statements made in the personal essay. While it is true that the public education system in several inner-city districts performs well below national standards and that Hispanics and African-Americans score lower than their Caucasian and Asian counterparts, this doesn't mean that every minority fits into this demographic or that these students are being accepted over qualified Caucasians.

Yet, instead of addressing the core of the severe inequality of the public system as a national crisis, the startling statistics are used as an argument as to why affirmative action is decreasing the quality of prestigious institutions and should be ruled unconstitutional. If the majority of the justices have this belief, then affirmative action will be unjustly struck down.

Alex Turner is a senior political science major from Dallas.

 
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