11 Nov 2012
The practices of different institutions for giving priority to the ethnic minorities, women, or students are known as Affirmative Action. This action can be related to the recruitment of employees in different organizations or admitting students in various colleges or universities (Daigle). The affirmative action was designed for providing benefits to those people that do not have the advantage to take admission in any specific college due to their background. Affirmative action works on the assumption that if minority applicants were striving to take admission in colleges, then there would be some limitations or constraints attached with the applicants. Therefore, a system in which an additional weight granted to applicants for their race or ethnicity was made. At the initial stage of this system, it only involved racial quotes but now it has been considering different factors such as gender, sexual status, and economic backgrounds (Moore).
The two US states that are considered as a pioneer for implementing affirmative actions are Texas and California, because they have forcefully implemented affirmative action in their system. The basic problem for affirmative action is that most of the people relate this system with individual’s color, despite the fact that admission granted to the applicant is based on other considerations. The people against and in favor of this system have valid reasons to support their arguments (Moore). Some people argue that this system is not fair for all the students, where other think that people having disadvantages for their race, color or gender should be provided certain advantage for taking admission in colleges. There is no proper measurement of evaluating and calculating opinions of the people regarding affirmative action, and this is the reason that there are issues and reservations for this system (Daigle).
Background and History
The affirmative action can be evaluated based on its wider context, but history of this system is only documented for education and academic terms. The President of USA signed an executive order in 1961, where affirmative action used as a term related to civil rights. The reference of affirmative action initially made for dealing with the contractors, but with the passage of time, this system further moved forward. US President signed another Act in which discrimination in education towards racism was strictly prohibited (Anderson).
The Supreme Court heard a case of “Odegaard and DeFunis” in 1974, but the timing of this case made it debatable, and this is the reason that no comment was given on racial preference in this case. Another case of “Bakke and Regents of the University of California” commenced in Supreme Court in which decision was given that no minority candidate can be judged separately. This ruling was not helpful to reach diversity for racism considerations, as this case carried for more than 20 years. An appeal court gave a decision for “Texas and Hopwood” case in 1996, where order was given that admission on racism cannot be granted at “Texas University Law School” (Sherpa).
Florida State in 2000 prohibits admissions in the state colleges based on racial preferences, and students were only allowed to take admission based on their percentages. Nevertheless, it was revealed that the intended outcomes of these programs were not according to expectations of the authorities. The Supreme Court heard another two cases related to affirmative action in 2003, where the first case was between “Bollinger and Gratz”, while other case was “Bollinger and Grutter”. For the first case, decision was made that policies of affirmative actions were not constitutional, and they must be abandoned, whereas other case gave judgment that minority students should be given preference for getting admission in law school (Sherpa).
People against Affirmative Actions
Thomas Sowell wrote the book “Affirmative Action around the World” in which he has criticized that affirmative action does not work according to the intention of authorities, and it causes harm to a society (Anderson). He further states that if one individual or group get benefits from this system, the other individual or group will be damaged, which means that this system is damaging for the society as a whole. Ward Connerly, founder of American Civil Rights Institute, wrote in his bio that affirmative action is responsible for increasing discrimination and racial disparity in US, no matter this system is made for helping those people who have faced racial discrimination in US. An associate justice named Clarence Thomas said that his law degree was not valuable in front of the employees, because he was black. According to a South African judge, significance of law degree from Yale was different for black people and different for white people. Carol Costello points out that there are many people thinking that this is the right time to end affirmative action because it is not suitable for the society (Dworkin).
People in Favor of Affirmative Actions
Deidre Bowen conducted a research in 2009 in which benefits of affirmative action are explained. He stated that this system is useful to eliminate discrimination for the admissions in colleges, as racism is prevailing in the education system, and students of color have to face difficulties for getting admission in colleges (Sherpa). Anthony Marx, president of Amherst College stated that high-class colleges are not superior nor terrible, because they do not admit lower income students. The co-director of Civil Rights Projects Gary Orfield argued that affirmative action is useful for the people, but policymakers need to listen to the court verdict. Gary found out that he is not a part of the region where racial problems are common, but he feels that this system has many strong benefits related to the education of students. Michael Martinson supported affirmative action that this system did not affect white students to get admission in colleges and universities, and it is useful for black students who have faced discrimination for getting admission in their desired colleges (Sherpa).
Attempts for addressing this Issue
This system is a continuous debate for policymaking decision regarding admission in the education system. The authorities and policymakers have previously used many approaches to increase the number of lawsuits and proposals that have been rejected for affirmative action (Moore). Some policymakers try to increase minority students in their colleges by applying different methods, in which the most common method is to guarantee a particular percentage of students to get admission in their colleges. In some colleges, students gaining top marks are guaranteed to get admission as they deserve to get admission in their desired colleges or universities. Many states such as Texas, California, and New York have tried to decrease racism in education, as many policies regarding black students have been made and implemented. In some states, this system has been successful, but there are many colleges in different states of US where many people have criticized affirmative action (Doverspike, Taylor and Arthur).
The discrimination in education is still a common issue in USA, and strong policies are required that would be helpful to eliminate discriminatory admission practices by different colleges. The best argument for the usage of affirmative action is to promote different students groups so that level of education can be increased (Daigle). The current way of practicing affirmative action is not suitable for many people, as racism cannot be eliminated by overlooking other students that deserve to get admission in colleges. Moreover, if one individual is admitted to the college by affirmative action, then it is evident that the student who has been ignored will suffer from this system. Therefore, the government should take serious measures to address this issue, because discrimination in education can damage future of the students.
Anderson, E. “Integration, affirmative action and strict scrutiny.” NYU Law Review 77 (2002): 1195-1271.
Daigle, S. Affirmative action legality, fairness, and ethical use in college admission in both the graduate and undergraduate levels of federally funded programs. Research Report. Florida: Florida Atlantic University, 2004.
Doverspike, P, M Taylor and W Arthur. Psychological Perspective on Affirmative Action . New York: Nova Science Publishers Inc., 2006.
Dworkin, R. Affirmative Action: Does it work? Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002.
Moore, J. Race And College Admissions: A Case For Affirmative Action. New York: McFarland, 2005.
Sherpa, T. Is Affirmative Action in College Admissions Ethical? Research Report. Miami: International Center of Ethics, Justice, and Public Life, 2011.