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A century ago, America had a much different landscape regarding equality amongst its citizens. Companies were free to hire only the employees they deemed acceptable to the owner’s preferred culture. An individual could be turned away simply because they were a woman, of an ethnic group, physical makeup, or their age. The same held for educational institutions, both private and public. In the 1940s, the landscape began to change in the workplace. Companies were required to eliminate discriminatory policies in the hiring, firing, and treatment of employees. In 1964 America passed the Civil Rights Act, and this led to improved equality in the workplace and opened the door to equality in education. Colleges and Universities also were required to admit a certain percentage of minority students. The purpose of this was to eliminate discrimination against low-income groups, build racial diversity among the student bodies, and eliminate social prejudice. By the late 1990s challenges of reverse discrimination popped up. In 2003 The Supreme Court ruled the University of Michigan point system favoring minorities was unconstitutional. However, their affirmative action policies in the graduate programs and law school were upheld in a narrow vote by the Supreme Court.
The choice of Colleges and Universities to develop affirmative action policies stemmed from their need to be more inclusive and diverse in their student body. Statistical data at that time showed that the lack of diversity among the student body gave unfair advantages to white students, particularly males upon graduation.
Underprivileged communities have been found to have weak primary and secondary educational institutions. This leads to a lack of adequate test scores needed to be competitive with more prosperous communities. Without an affirmative action plan, Colleges and Universities found it challenging to find qualified minority applicants. As the racial diversity landscape changed in the business world, hirer demands for minority graduates arose. Higher education needed to adjust its admission requirements and profiles to meet the demands. Another critical factor is the amount of financial support contributed to Colleges and Universities by local and state businesses. Michigan is known for its automotive factories, California is a leader in the high-tech industry, Texas leads the country in everything oil and gas. Likewise, Michigan has some of the best engineering programs in the country, the University of California campuses consistently rank among the world’s brightest and best research and development programs serving companies like Google, Facebook, and other technology giants.
The affirmative action plans implemented across America in Colleges and Universities have served a definite purpose in providing opportunities that may have never been an option for minorities and the academically and sociologically challenged. There has been a continued decline in the gap of qualified candidates across all economic and racial sectors. This has led to many questionings if we still need admissions quotas. Several states have challenged the policy stating that an admission process is a form of reverse discrimination. As a result, many states have banned the process altogether.
Not all students test well. Society has typically rewarded those with the highest scores are the best candidates. Other factors also need equal weight in the selection process. Academy’s weigh a student’s performance/ improvement from eighth grade on. It is believed to be a more accurate reflection of trial and error and future progress. Academies also require applicants to have held a job while attending school for at least six months and to have played at least two sports. Their reasons are that students who challenge themselves academically, physically and financially have a higher probability of success in society. I would like to see this incorporated in the admissions process at all academic levels.
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