I distinctly remember the petrifying alarm of college application season. More specifically, I remember living with the belief that I had virtually no chance of being accepted into any top college. Not because of a lack of good grades, sports, or extracurriculars; because of affirmative action.
I only recently came across the title "affirmative action" but have heard of its effects for years. Ever since I was a young child, my parents have drilled in me the importance of education. "Work hard and you will be rewarded." "Hard work is key to success."
When looking at colleges now however, it is clear that hard work and motivation are not the only important factors taken into college admissions. Instead, there is an "important" but mostly vague and undefined factor called diversity. Is diversity helpful to a well-rounded college experience? No doubt. Living side by side with people of different backgrounds, religions, and races is part of what makes the college experience so invaluable.
But I am not arguing against diversity. I am arguing against affirmative action.
In colleges today, an integral part of creating diversity is the policy of affirmative action. Affirmative action in colleges considers factors of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. In the 1900s, affirmative action helped minorities gain many of the rights they have today. Today, affirmative action is hurting our nation more than it is helping.
There is no denying the fact that minorities such as women, African-Americans, and Hispanics have long faced prejudice. These underrepresented minorities are considerably more likely to live in poverty and face steep battles to gain college acceptance. The logic behind affirmative action is to give these minorities advantages to offset the challenges they tend to face.
Affirmative action made sense in the past when minority groups such as women and African-Americans were not allowed the same opportunities as others. Do these biases still exist? Of course, but not even close to the same amount. Even more importantly, affirmative action tends to over-correct these biases. By causing what has been termed "reverse discrimination", other ethnic groups who are deemed "overrepresented" are made to work much harder to gain the same admission rights that others find more easily.
Studies have found that in college admissions an Asian scoring a 1550 out of 1600 on the old SAT is given the same consideration as a Caucasian student scoring 1410, a Hispanic student scoring 1230, and an African-American student scoring 1100.
My own SAT score sat at 1530, and while that might look good for an underrepresented minority, based purely on the numbers, colleges deem there are "enough" American-born Indians who score in my range.
This is absolutely absurd.
The easy explanation for this is that underrepresented minorities are not presented with the same benefits as others and cannot prepare as well for these types of tests. When my parents were in college in India, admissions were based solely on entrance exams. This method has an obvious flaw: a person of wealth can easily afford better education and colleges would end up with an imbalance of wealthy students.
Affirmative action corrects this, yes, but only for the poor that come from specific races, most notably African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanics. It is no secret that many of the minorities in the United States disproportionately make up the majority of the lower class income brackets but can we just ignore the rest of the lower class citizens?
The fact of the matter is that affirmative action continues to hurt lower income Asian and white citizens while rewarding the upper class minorities deemed "underrepresented" -- if affirmative action was truly about leveling the playing field it would be based on income and not extraneous factors.
Clarence Thomas, one of our current Supreme Court justices is an outspoken critic of affirmative action. Thomas is quoted as saying, "We play to stereotypes, instead of treating people as individuals. You can take kids who want to work hard and put too much on them too soon. And then we blame them if they don't succeed."
A "benefactor" of affirmative action, he was accepted into Yale University but struggled to find a job as a lawyer after graduation. Wherever he applied, people doubted his grades and success, attributing it only to affirmative action.
Thomas was able to see through his life experiences the problems under-represented minorities generally face with affirmative action. While many can handle themselves in a good school, many more are shocked by the new environment and are overwhelmed by their new expectations. On top of this, the majority of their achievements are generally discounted as them "getting lucky" because of affirmative action.
Of course, diversity is still an important issue. But affirmative action does not accurately provide diversity -- it only is successful in harming both the people it is supposed to help as well as races that are deemed "overrepresented." Diversity is not the issue here; affirmative action is.
The 14th Amendment of the United States states: "no state shall...deny to any person with its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The facts are clear: affirmative action is denying this equal access. To this day, Michigan, California, Florida, Texas, and Washington have banned the use of race or sex in admissions considerations -- it is time for the rest of us to do the same.