Art of a graduation cap. Affirmative action is a policy in which an individual’s color, race, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups in society when applying to college, for example. PUBLIC DOMAIN

Affirmative action is a policy in which an individual’s color, race, sex, religion or national origin are taken into account to provide opportunities for underrepresented groups in society. We see this policy at play in many different facets of people’s lives. Whether it is applying to jobs, colleges or any other positions such as a promotion in a company, affirmative action serves to level the playing field. This is important because minority groups are often not given the same type of opportunities as white people or people with a high socioeconomic status. 

The first time students are introduced to affirmative action is when they apply to colleges. A majority of colleges describe themselves as being accepting of affirmative action and equal opportunity, which refers to the special consideration given to women, racial minorities and members of other historically excluded groups. 

Affirmative action was first introduced in 1978 after a medical student sued a university after he was denied admission, claiming that he was the victim of discrimination. After the court ruled in his favor, it was determined that race is one of the factors that segregates colleges. This decision would ultimately change the way colleges accepted students and the way students applied to schools. 

The third grade was the first time I was introduced to standardized testing, starting with the TerraNova Test, which enhances a student’s readiness for the New York State Regents exams and eventually the SATs. One of the first parts of the test that students are presented with is the Race Box. Students as young as kindergarten age must pick from a set of races such as Pacific Islander, Native American, African American and others. The problem with this is that it assumes that every student is comfortable with identifying as just one race and implies that the only races that exist are the ones listed.

These race boxes are used to collect data regarding affirmative action; however, a student does not get scored differently or receive better grades. People who oppose or criticize affirmative action are often unaware of its impact and benefit for people of color. People think about the policy and assume it is unfair because it gives preference to one student over another. However, it has faced pushback from students who identify as non-white. Most recently, Harvard University was accused of discriminating against Asian American students in their admissions process. According to The New York Times, “[t]he group argued that Harvard had favored black and Hispanic applicants at the expense of another minority group.” This is an interesting turn for affirmative action because it now “pits” minority groups against other minority groups, essentially going against what it was created to do. This policy was put in place to help the same students who are now speaking out against it.

Regardless of this, affirmative action is one factor that is important in establishing an equal and fair college admissions process as long as it is rightfully upheld.

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2 comments

  1. So I assume that means you’re going to get rid of some of the women only scholarship programs and make sure to start using affirmative action to make sure less qualified males get in right? Since about 65%+ of enrolled and graduates are women……

    Yeah don’t bother answering, if you even have the integrity to post this comment. We all know how “equal” works out in your particular version of “math”.

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