Critical Thinking

Affirmative American society. It is also argued to

Affirmative
action in universities has been a popularly debated topic for almost half a century
and continues to be equally controversial and divisive today. It is meant to
foster diversity and provide equal opportunities in education for
underrepresented minorities. It is said to remedy the long legacy of racism in
American society. It is also argued to help create tolerant communities because
it exposes people to a variety of cultures and ideas that are different from
their own. It also helps disadvantaged people that come from areas where there
are not many opportunities to be able to advance where they otherwise could
not. In other words, affirmative action attempts to give people an equal
playing field. But a prevalent question in this debate is whether or not affirmative
action helps universities achieve their stated goals. Opponents of affirmative
action contend that it is reverse discrimination and that it is simply wrong. They
also argue that past discrimination against certain minority groups does not
justify present discrimination against non-minorities. Ultimately, they believe
that people are equal under the laws of the United States of America and should
be treated accordingly and that the best people for a position should be hired
or admitted, regardless of race. More of its critics point to students
struggling to keep up in schools mismatched to their abilities and to the fact
that the policy can be manipulated to benefit affluent and middle class
students that already possess many educational advantages.

            Defenders and attackers of
affirmative action often fail to recognize that affirmative action can take
many forms to achieve different goals. Debates on affirmative action frequently
place far too much focus on attacking the most extreme forms of it.  If universities used applications that were both
gender and race blind–but not socioeconomically blind–then acceptances would be
fairer, and would also lead to a student body with a more accurate reflection
of society.

            California’s public universities are
a noteworthy example of success with colorblind admissions. They have used
colorblind admissions for two decades under Proposition 209 which states “The
state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any
individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national
origin.” The only thing taken into consideration by admissions, apart from the
student’s application itself, is the applicant’s socioeconomic status. This
colorblind admission system creates college classrooms that are surprisingly a
fairly accurate cross-section of California’s racial and ethnic diversity. In
2017, admitted freshman throughout the UC system were 34% Asian, 33% Latino,
24% white and 5% African-American. California’s high school seniors, in
comparison, are 52% Latino, 24% white, 11% Asian and Filipino, and 6%
African-American. In comparison to the breakdown of the total U.S. population,
white Americans are the racial majority; African Americans, amounting to 13.3%
of the population, are the largest racial minority, and Hispanics and Latino
Americans amount to 17.8% of the total U.S. population, making up the largest
ethnic minority. Even within the state of California where the breakdown of
race is different, the percentages are largely the same.

            But putting aside the success with
California’s admissions policies, socioeconomic status is an important
component to an applicant and an additional piece of information that a
university should be able to obtain with the student’s application. Socioeconomic
status does affect components of an application and should be taken into
consideration. Socioeconomic status affects a student’s grades as well as their
standardized test scores. In terms of standardized tests, wealthier students
can afford tutors, excellent private schools, and advanced calculators. They
are also likely able to receive help from their parents on homework
assignments, papers and studying.  Less
fortunate students do not have these advantages and therefore tend to score
lower on these types of tests. When socioeconomic status is taken into
consideration, students can be assessed more fairly.   

            Does a diverse society depend more on
race or socioeconomic status? People argue that socioeconomic status can be a
result of your race but the reality is that the two are often intertwined.