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Affirmative Action

In his famous Gettysburg address, Lincoln said, “our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” (Lincoln). Lincoln believed that everyone should be treated equally; however, affirmative action produces the exact opposite effect. Affirmative action is the policy of giving preference to minority students on college applications. The goal of affirmative action is to promote equality by increasing overall acceptance of different kinds of people. However, I am against affirmative action because applicants should be chosen for grades and achievements and not race.

Colleges and universities should not use affirmative action policies when making admissions decisions. Making decisions based on affirmative actions may cause colleges to get less qualified candidates for their student body. It is the mission of top schools, such as Stanford, to admit the best students, but “the average SAT disparity between Stanford’s African American and white admitted reached 171 points in 1992” (Sacks & Thiel 1). The extreme difference in scores shows that Stanford does not always admit the most qualified candidates. Affirmative action also promotes division and racism on the college campus. Martin Luther King, Jr. dreamed of a color-blind society where the color of a person’s skin does not matter and all people are brought together without a color barrier. However, affirmative action actually heightens people’s awareness of race by making it an important part of the admissions decision. Affirmative action can also be insulting to minorities. Minorities might assume they could not get in on their own merits without the help of affirmative action policies. Affirmative action causes the “ significant achievements of minorities to become compromised” (2). The accomplishments of minorities who performed well and got in by their own achievements become less valuable because they will never know if they were admitted under affirmative action policies or not.

Supporters of affirmative action points out inequality but fail to show that giving admission preference to minorities is the best solution. One argument posed by people supporting the use of affirmative action policies on college campuses is that many minority students attend underfunded public schools and do not receive a quality education. For example, one Milwaukee school that is predominately black and Latino, “ annually spends $3,081 less per student” than a nearby predominately white school (Pryse 1). But race is not the only factor that determines a student’s educational advantage. Some white students also receive poor education, while some black students attend excellent schools. As one opponent of affirmative action states, “If preferences were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race.” (Sack & Thiel 1). Supporters also say that white students receive preferential treatment in admissions that affirmative action is trying to counteract. One supporter explains that “as many as 15 percent of freshmen at America’s top schools are white students who failed to meet their university’s minimum standards for admission”( Pryse 1). The students have connections, such as parents who are alumni, and supporters say there are twice as many of these privileged white students on top campuses as there are black and Latino students that benefit from affirmative action (1). However, the policy of admitting students on the basis of legacy or family connection is just as wrong as letting students in based on race. Both policies should be stopped, instead of just adding another unfair policy to counteract unfairness that already exists. Even though there is inequality, affirmative action decisions based on race do not provide the best solution.

I feel that affirmative action policies should not be used to make admissions decisions because students should be let in based on their own merits. Affirmative action allows less qualified students to enter colleges. It also creates division and undermines the accomplishments of minorities. Giving preference based on race is not as fair and effective as giving preference based on some other qualification, such as income, which would take a person’s actual disadvantage into account. Students should not be admitted based on family connections, race, or any other quality that does not have to do with a student’s achievements. With more and more students applying for college each year, and schools becoming more selective, the debate over the use of affirmative action policies grows more and more important.





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