PRO: No firm decision on affirmative action

Vrinda Chauhan, Staff Writer

At first blush, the idea of affirmative action seems to disturb the basic American principles of equality. However, affirmative action, poorly understood by its antagonists, seeks to provide opportunities for all races, create diversity, and move toward breaking racial stereotypes.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, affirmative action is the policy of providing special opportunities for disadvantaged groups who experience discrimination to attend universities. This assures that people from all corners of the world, despite economic hindrances, can have an opportunity to be accepted into a university.

This policy does not sit well with some, as it seems to favor people of a certain race or background above others. However, what opponents of affirmative action fail to understand is that by treating these races unequally, this policy is actually helping establish equality. Generally, minority students begin their college application process at a disadvantage. According to the National Poverty Center, about 15% of America’s population qualifies as poverty-stricken minorities and may come from lower income families or live in high crime, drug-infested areas. Among this group are hard-working minority students who don’t have the same paper qualifications as those who are more privileged. By favoring these minorities, affirmative action helps students overcome hurdles and creates a fair race for people of all backgrounds.

America should strive to be a nation that advocates equality instead of neutrality. Though requiring that people of different strengths and weaknesses compete in a uniform race is treating everyone equally, it is, essentially, more advantageous to one group more than another. With this regulation, for example, students who could have afforded the expensive SAT prep and dedicated years to preparing will be going against students who may have not even had a chance to glance at the SAT practice test. This uniform race is not necessarily fair. By treating everyone equally, we are essentially ignoring the different backgrounds people come from.

In addition, according to a study by economists Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger, affirmative action directly impacts the economic future of many minority students. The study revealed that minority students who graduated from elite universities earned greater salaries, while the middle or upper class students from top universities showed no difference. Completely discarding racial consideration would not only reduce minority presence at selective schools, but it would also further limit intergenerational class mobility even further.

Furthermore, affirmative action helps prevent stereotypes for higher education, and prevents the nation’s top universities and graduate schools  from being overtaken by the affluent community. This will also impact employment, as more privileged students will continue to get the top jobs. Affirmative action can help put an end to hierarchy systems in universities and at work. This stereotype discourages minorities from applying to a university, thus further reducing the diversity within the nation. Diversity in college lays the groundwork for students to be comfortable interacting with a variety of individuals of different ethnicities—an essential skill to have in today’s global society,

All in all, affirmative action can help America move toward equality, not away from it. Once we realize that we do not and cannot live in a colorblind society, it’s plain to see that affirmative action simply helps those who cannot help themselves.