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Everyone deserves an equal and fair chance when applying to college campuses. Affirmative action creates tension among races in college campuses in an already divided country. I believe that affirmative action does nothing but divide society into separate groups based off of race, class, and ethnicity. This division harms us rather than helps us and will be detrimental in the long run. The college admissions process should be blind and America should provide equal opportunity for everyone.
There is no denying that there should be equal opportunity, but the equal opportunities for students can occur without the affirmative action programs presently created. Affirmative action programs are made so that all groups within a given society or group have the same opportunity to succeed. A campus wants to be diverse but there is no guarantee that they are allowing diversity through the right methods. There have been many controversies regarding diversity on college campuses throughout time. In Deena Prichep’s article, “A Campus More Colorful Than Reality: Beware That College Brochure”, we get an inside look on how a student from the University of Wisconsin was photo shopped onto a college brochure in order to ensure that the college represented diversity in full form. Colleges pride themselves on having a wide variety of students from various races and cultures but just what lengths are they willing to go to in order to showcase that? Diallo Shabazz, the student who was photo-shopped, states that, “Universities have a responsibility to portray diversity on campus, you know and to portray the type of diversity that they would like to create”. (678) Due to this overwhelming responsibility on creating a diverse campus, colleges have unfairly allowed students of minority groups to enter their college despite having lower grades and or scores compared to white or more privileged students. This unfair system that is used during college applications is not something that a college should pride themselves on and does not give them the opportunity to claim themselves as being diverse because it is ultimately for the wrong reasons.
No groups of people are uniformly disadvantaged and the truth of the matter is that there are certain people of minority that may be better off than others. In the article, “The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality”, Walter Benn Michaels argues his point on cultural diversity and how, “Almost everything we say about culture (that the significant differences between us are cultural, that such differences should be respected, that our cultural heritages should be perpetuated, that there’s a value in making sure that different cultures survive) seems to me mistaken”. (726) Relating to that point, I believe that if we give more attention to affirmative action we are furthermore provoking economic inequality and the gap between the rich and the poor. Michaels claims that, “For thirty years, while the gap between the rich and the poor has grown larger, we’ve been urged to respect people’s identities — as if the problem of poverty would be solved if we just appreciated the poor. From the economic standpoint, however, what poor people want is not to contribute to diversity but to minimize their contribution to it — they want to stop being poor. Celebrating the diversity of American life has become the American left’s way of accepting their poverty, of accepting inequality”. (727) We are told that cultural diversity is good for us but the differences in race, culture, and identity distract us from the main issue at hand– that there is a gap between the rich and the poor and there is a disadvantage between the two.
People have begun to correlate and intertwine race with inequality, therefore, affirmative action in itself is used to simply help minorities financially. In Sherryl Cashin’s article “Introduction from Place, Not Race: A New Vision of Opportunity in America” she expresses a viewpoint similar to mine and even goes as far as to say, “Diversity = fewer white people, even in places where white people are already a minority, both in terms of their representation in the general population and their presence on campuses”. (714) From the very beginning when reading Cashin’s article she starts off by saying “This book is about fairness”. (712) I love how thoroughly Cashin proved her point and used real life student’s views to incorporate into her book. Going back to fairness on a college campus, colleges should revolve around equality and pride themselves on being fair instead of only being diverse. Celebrating diversity does not solve the problems of diversity on campuses because diversity is solely defined by race and race only. Affirmative action should be reimagined and as Cashin argues, affirmative action as currently practiced does little to help disadvantaged people.
Even if you don’t necessarily agree with Cashin, there is no denying that she is taking a step in the right direction towards resolving this long-winded debate. “My aim is to begin a larger conversation about how to create a politics of fairness that will help the vast majority of Americans who will not attend Harvard, Yale, or the University of Illinois.” (713) In order to take the right steps we must establish blind admissions policies and establish fairness to all individuals. The more we incorporate methods of fairness into our system, the more we can see a positive outcome in equality.
Simply put, the point is, if you fall into the minority groups who do receive advantages through affirmative action, there is no way to overcome the barrier that was placed upon you due to your culture or ethnicity. This alienation between two groups of people, whether it be based on class or race, does nothing but create resentment and stirs up tension. Tension is created amongst students when the advantages get stripped from a minority group or when people outside that minority group come to terms that they are being treated unfairly. If we take an Indian native for example, they may have the advantage of them entering an ivy-league school stripped from them and retaliate by voicing their strong opinions and seeing how it is unfair to them. Other students such as, Abigail Fischer, as mentioned in Sheryll Cashin’s article, voiced her complaint as well. Abigail Fischer wanted to attend the University of Texas, her dream school, without the involvement of race. She did not want her lifestyle to be a determining factor amongst other competitors fighting for her spot at her school of choice. Cashin writes that, “Her application probably landed in the “maybe” pile, its occupants neither obvious admits nor rejects. These are the applications conscientious admissions officers agonize over. A strong, authentic voice crying out from an absorbing personal essay or a soaring letter of recommendation that rings as true can make the difference. In addition to high school rank and standardized test scores, UT considered personal achievement based upon two essays and factors like leadership, socioeconomic status, and — the eternal bugaboo — race.” (715) Ultimately, race was brought into context and Fischer argues that it played a definitive role. A lot of people can relate with this struggle and want to put a stop to these unfair practices.
As we have noticed, race definitely plays a major role within college applications; alongside that, there have been many Supreme Court rulings to try and abolish the use of race in admissions. Unfortunately in 2013, the Supreme Court decision called Fisher v. Texas extended race-based affirmative action. If we engaged in race neutral admissions policies or didn’t give so great a preference there would not be the discrimination that we are facing today. Entering academic credentials do matter and this racial injustice should not continue. When a student comes to the realization and learns that the only reasons colleges take certain students is to have a certain percentage of different races to seem as if they are diverse, it will affect them deeply. Students may stop trying academically because of this unjust problem that is occurring. The more people will start to realize this unfair disadvantage, the more steps we can take in ending the unfairness within colleges and universities.
Overall, affirmative action is completely unjust and is basically a form of reverse discrimination. There is no good that comes from discrimination. Whether it is to those who have been discriminated against their whole life or those who have never had to experience it, discrimination should simply not occur. The ultimate flaw in college admissions is that we cannot just take in race and class from an individual and have that determine whether or not they get in. Cashin claimed that, “Race-based affirmative action buys some diversity for a relative few, but not serious inclusion. It doesn’t help to build a movement to attack underlying systems of inequality that are eating away at the soul of our nation”. (722) As you can see, we may think that affirmative action is doing good for our world, but is instead actually harming us in the long run and deteriorating our nation. It shows that there is a difference between two groups of people and one should receive more advantages than the other.
The differing opinions to the argument of affirmative action have to do with the fact that there is no such thing as discrimination. People argue that just because their test scores are lower and they are shown to be less smart than other individuals who have gotten in- does not mean that they cannot grow and achieve that same intelligence. People claim that college is where you go to develop, become more mature, and experience things. These people who have struggled should be able to gain that opportunity despite it being unfair. I contradict that statement by arguing that there is no need to become unmotivated and not try just as hard as others have due to your race or ethnicity. It is not an unfair way to live life and gives you no motivation to work harder. Everyone should work hard for themselves in order to create the perfect life that they imagine and want to live. If students knew that they would automatically get into their dream college based on their race, there would be no effort being put in and no equality being established. America is based off of equality and freedom so why haven’t we already utilized that equality in college applications by making race neutral admissions?
As mentioned in the beginning of my essay, the United States of America is an already dangerously divided country. These issues with colleges and diversity only attribute to the further separation we see. Division is constricting and doesn’t allow people to grow and venture or do things that are outside of their realm of possibilities. If everyone is treated fairly and equally, whether it be in college admission applications or life in general, we can eliminate unfairness and can all equally grow together as humans.
In conclusion, I am arguing for more equal opportunities and the elimination of race based applications at colleges and universities. Fairness and equality should be incorporated into all aspects of life and diversity should benefit us instead of constrict us. The struggles that people within minority groups face, should motivate them and not give them the expectation for entrance within a particular college. Students who try hard will succeed despite their race or ethnicity and will land them their spot in their dream school. We must eliminate further separation and division due to how someone is brought up. These points are why I am taking a stand on equal policies within college campuses and blind admission processes. Division between groups of people harms us and allows us to see each other as better or higher. A campus can be diverse all while being fair, equal, and just.
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