Are you in or are you out?

January 11, 2010
By , Houston, TX
Imagine, coming from a school that had no toilets, no book, and sewage flowing by tons into your hallways. Well, in East St. Louis, this is exactly what the schools are like. In the school, Martin Luther King Junior High School, the people “were evacuated Friday afternoon after sewage flowed into the kitchen…a few days later… the entire system is affected… and school is called off for all 16,500” (Kozol 1). There are no books, no teachers, pregnant students, and pretty much no school at this school and there are many more of these types of schools in America. Any person in America wants to go to college, but if you came from this school, you would have no chance to get into school. You could get extra points because of your race, however, it still may not help you get into the school of your dreams. This is an example of the biggest argument today, should there or should there not be affirmative action when accepting people to college? Affirmative action is giving people extra points based on race, income, and many more. Some are for this action and some are against. However, even though people are being admitted for race, I believe people should be admitted on income, their class, and background.

In the college admission sheet, extra points are given for so many traits. Men in nursing, legacy’s, gender, race, income, and others are all contributions to getting points for getting into college. I feel that they give too many points for little traits that everyone can have. I mean, come on, twenty points for just being a different race or because you are from a different country? That is very unfair. What if you were super smart, capable of getting into Harvard University. You got your letter in the mail, tore it open, and you read the letter saying you were smart enough to get in, however a person, who is less smart than you, got in because they got twenty extra points for being a different race. What if they said they were trying to “diversify the campus”? I know I would be very angry if I got this letter. So, why give the extra points for something that people just have? According to “Office of Undergraduate Admissions”, you can get extra points for just being a girl. Even though I am girl, and yes that would be appreciated, I just feel like that is very unfair to give points to someone for something so small. Everyone is either a girl or a boy so that is just a guaranteed those extra points. But, why not give those points for things like achievements, awards, community service, and maybe good things you’ve done for the community instead?

Take a second to think about the people who are poor and cannot even afford to go to college. In East St. Louis, it is “an inner city without an outer city… Among the negative factors… the sewage running in the streets, air has been fouled by the local plants, the high lead levels noted in the soil, poverty, lack of education, crime, dilapidated housing…health care, unemployment” (Kozol 1). These kids could not get into college. Imagine, you putting on your application to get into college that you came from a town like this. The people who are looking for new, intelligent students would take one look at your application and say, this person has no education background, they are poor, and they are not smart enough to attend here. Other students are going to look at these kids and ask why is someone as smart as me here with someone as dumb as them here? That would cause so many issues with the colleges and they do not want to deal with more college drama and the challenges they face. So, I believe that you should get the full twenty points if you are poor, however, you must be just as smart as others. It is very unfair if you are not as smart as the other people attending college. It is not fair to the other students, the actual student, and the teacher who would have to spend extra time with that student, which they should not have to do. If you are just as smart as others, then why shouldn’t you get a fair chance like the others? If no money is the only thing standing in your way, then why would be so cruel and heartless by not permitting these students, who are just as smart as the others, to come into college. These towns are “simply the worst possible place I can imagine to have a child brought up… The community is in desperate need of circumstances” (Kozol 3). These kids in St. Louis are very smart. They understand what is going on in the world and they can be smart. They want to go to college and learn how to better themselves. They would so much rather go to college and get a good education and succeed in life, than sit there and just be poor. However, they feel that they can’t get in because of where they came from and they don’t have enough money. That is where the extra twenty points comes in to give them that extra strive and know that they are recognized and given help to succeed.

Also, I believe people should be accepted depending on the background and where they have come from. What if you came from a school where “the heat that breeds the insects bearing polio or hepatitis in raw swage also heightens asthma… and reduces patience” (Kozol 1). Also, what if, “the streets are underwater; gaseous fumes are being emitted form the piped under the schools… making people ill” (Kozol 2). If kids come from these backgrounds, they are going to have nothing to help them get into college. So, they should be accepted depending on their background and not their race. If it depended on race, which would mean points would be unfair. Some of the other types of races are filthy rich, and what about the poor whites or blacks or Asians or Hispanics? There are so many people in this world of all races that are poor, so give them the extra help if they need it. So many people all over the world have come from such horrible backgrounds, but they want an education, they want to learn. So, why don’t we help them instead of just accepting people from a different race. I would be happy to know even though I didn’t get accepted to college, the person that went into college instead of me needed it way more than I did because of what has happened in their life. Also, so many of these kids that backgrounds are horrible, they are truly smart, they just haven’t been given a time to challenge themselves and be smart like all the rest of us.

Many believe that points should not be given at all for race, gender, background, and income. I however do not believe, in race or gender, because these are both traits that anyone can have, that everyone does have. Even though race can create diversity, it can racists, so race shouldn’t matter. In the counterargument against affirmative action, writer Thiel says, “this same push for ‘diversity’ has led to… racially segregated freshmen orientation programs… and curricular requirements in race theory and gender studies” (1). I agree with this counterargument. Even though they are trying to create diversity, it still isn’t working. They are still discriminating as students and they are having their own ceremonies according to race. If they just accepted on background, then these problems could be solved easily. Some say people can control where they came from and if they really wanted to learn and go to college they could try to succeed, but some kids cannot do anything about it. Some kids in East St. Louis say, “ the two things, race and money, go so close together-what’s the difference? I live here, they live there, and they do not want me in their school” (Kozol 4). Those kids have tried, but they always fail, so they say what is the point? They can’t help where they come from; they were just born to their parents who were living there. It isn’t their fault, so why should they be punished?

To be admitted to college, I believe kids should be accepted depending on their background and they should get some extra points if they are poor. Some of these kids have nothing and they would love to have the opportunities we have here. We are so lucky, and we don’t even realize it. We never have to worry with not being admitted to college because we are poor and we have a horrible background. These kids that want it more than we ever will, will never get that same chance as we do today. Today, so many of us “buy” our way into college or just because we have a legacy, we will be able to get in. Affirmative action, in my opinion is wrong in some ways, but in other ways I totally agree. It just depends on your opinion and beliefs of what affirmative action should be and what it shouldn’t be.

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