Crossfire: Should Schools Use Affirmative Action in Academic Selection?

Asian Americans crowd Howard Square in attempts to promote fair admission into Harvard University.  Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Asian Americans crowd Howard Square in attempts to promote fair admission into Harvard University. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

YES

By DENISE MARTINEZ

This world is in dire need of a voice to stand for discriminated minorities.

Affirmative action should be favored because it gives those who have a deserving work ethic in minority races a chance to be considered thoroughly in comparison to their non-minority counterparts.

The effort started in the 1960s as an outcome of the Civil Rights movement, a movement that advocated for the rights of African Americans who were commonly discriminated against for their race.

The Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 outlawed public school segregation, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 improved life prospects for African Americans.

However, affirmative action is inclusive of all races that aren’t equally represented in the world of education, not just African Americans. 

This matters because as students living in such times where racism and prejudice are abundant, we need to be viewed as humans who have great skill and hard workmanship, not just as a color that can be deemed at a higher or lower value than others.

Affirmative action gives people a chance to shine and be seen for what they can do, not what they’re stereotyped as. 

This program nullifies discrimination and instead promotes diversity in schools, which is vital. Affirmative action exposes students to an open-minded mentality. 

With the promotion of diversity, people change the way they think of others because diversity breaks down the system of how race categorizes a person’s worth.

Statistics show that after California abolished its affirmative action programs in 1998, the minority student admissions at UC Berkeley fell 61 percent, and minority admissions at UCLA fell 36 percent. 

This is hard proof how institutions are dismissing certain minority students when admissions are not regulated under affirmative action policies.

Graduates who benefited from affirmative action programs say that they have received better jobs, earned more money, and ultimately are living better lives because of the opportunity they received.

This is why schools should accept and embrace the policy of affirmative action. This is why you, as a student, should support it.

NO

By LISBETH JUELA TENEMAZA

Imagine you’ve been doing everything right your entire life: working hard, stressing over APs, and not getting any sleep, just to be rejected by your dream university. 

This is what’s happening to many seniors across the United States. Not because their SAT scores weren’t good enough or their GPA was too low, but because they were Asian American.

The reason for it is the controversial topic of affirmative action. Originally, it was brought about in the 1960s in an effort to help marginalized groups — especially African Americans — gain jobs and go to college in the wake of the Civil Rights Movement. President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order in 1961 that created the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which helped marginalized minorities find jobs. Thus, affirmative action was born. Later, it was instituted in universities in 1964 when the Civil Rights Act was passed. 

However, though affirmative action brings out diversity and attempts to reverse past discriminatory mistakes, it ultimately undermines minorities, creates reverse discrimination, and simply no longer does what it was set out to do.

For people from a historically oppressed background -- African Americans, Latinos, Asian Americans, and even women -- affirmative action is not just a reminder that you will never be good enough to succeed on your own, it also further diminishes all the hard work put in place by our predecessors who have tried to break the status quo.

This is not to say that marginalized groups do not appreciate when others stand up for them, but there is a point when many want to feel accomplished and like they have beaten all the odds against them. We want to be our own Superman.  

“There are so many stereotypes out there, but honestly it just makes me want to work harder to prove them wrong,” said Roslyn Salas ’20. 

A “can-do” attitude is what we need for minorities to no longer be seen as the ones who need that extra push to become something in life. We all have that potential, and it shouldn’t be just our race that gets us up there among the greatest people of all time. It should be our merit, hard work, and determination to go above and beyond stereotypical expectations. 

“Ultimately, affirmative action empowers racism and discrimination because it looks at these powerful students of color and allows top universities that use affirmative action to think that they made a path for us minorities, that we didn’t do it ourselves,” said Laura Rosas ’20. “I pride myself on how hard I work to get to the top on my own, and for it to just be thrown out the window is demeaning. I am more than just the color of my skin.” 

Beyond diminishing minority efforts, affirmative action also produces reverse discrimination. 

Reverse discrimination is when the majority group gets pushed to the side, so to say, and the minority group is more often selected for things like jobs and placement in universities because they have been historically oppressed.  

Although this idea sometimes is used by white groups to show that white people are also discriminated against, it still has some validity. 

Yes, white people have historically often been the ones doing the oppressing, and yes, minorities are much more oppressed by far, but that does not give anyone the right to “oppress back.” If so, we would have an endless cycle of oppression and lack of respect for each other. We have to learn from the past, not revert to it for a false feeling of vengeance. We should be better than that. 

Point blank, discrimination is one of the disgusting aspects that this world faces. No buts, ands, or ifs: No one should be discriminated against. 

“I think nowadays affirmative action is used as a tool to just have diversity in schools and it no longer even considers if one person has better skills than others,” said Yaire Calderon ’20. 

In the current Supreme Court case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, evidence has shown that Asian Americans, most often Chinese Americans, are racially discriminated against on Harvard’s consideration list. Through Harvard’s point system, Asian Americans, despite scoring higher than other minorities and whites in every other category, are often unable to attend Harvard for their low “personality” score. 

“When I heard about that happening at Harvard, it completely broke my heart,” said Auritri Hossain ’20. “Harvard is one of my dream unis, and now knowing that I might be rated lower because of my ancestry really angers me. It’s not fair. I’ve worked so hard.” 

Harvard’s system pits minorities against each other, as it admits other minorities through affirmative action but fails to include Asian Americans in the mix. 

“The very fact that it was a policy made with the intention of giving people of color a more favorable shot at elite college admissions was a nice concept,” said Jonathan Li ’20. “But now you hear more and more about how certain minorities, like Asian Americans, have been in a way disenfranchised. It’s now a battle of which minority is more in need. That’s not right.” 

Not only is it not right, but it pits minorities in a very real struggle against each other, creating a division that should not be there. The world is hard enough. We should be able to go through this journey as a united front.

“I hope this policy changes and benefits every single person of color,” said Li. “In order to do so, minority students have to come together and defend each other at times when one group is challenged. We really are in this together.”