Advantages and Disadvantages of Affirmative Action

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English 112
Exploratory Essay

The Affirmative Action Debate

Affirmative Action Defined

Affirmative Action can be defined as “positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and business from which they have been historically excluded (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)”. However because those steps involve “preferential” selection affirmative action generates intense controversy (Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy).

Affirmative Action (Negative)

There are many people who oppose the institution of affirmative action for many different reasons. Some argue that it allows students, and employees to slack off, and takes away their initiative to perform better. Some of the other arguments suggest that it demeans the color blind society that it is trying to create, and takes away from minority achievement as well. However the most common argument against affirmative action is that it creates reverse discrimination. This is the most important, and controversial argument made by those who criticize affirmative action. One article stated “it constitutes a form of racial discrimination and as such is presumably unjust, immoral, and illegal on it’s face (About.com pg.1)”. Critics of affirmative action claim that those who support it as a way to correct past discrimination are being hypocritical. Using another form of discrimination to fight discrimination solves nothing. Critics also suggest that students that are admitted to universities under affirmative action are not ready to handle the course work at the school they have been accepted to (Balancedpolitics.org pg.1).

Many examples can be cited to support these claims. For example in 1994 faculty members were fired from St. Bonaventure University (Studyworld.com pg.1). All of these faculty members were men. After being questioned about his actions, the president of the university stated that his motive was to protect the small number of women on the staff at the university (Studyworld.com pg.1). Another example of the negative affects of affirmative action can be sited in the case of Dave Shiflett, a former writer at Rocky Mountain News. In one of his articles Mr. Shiflett wrote about a new hiring policy that had been implemented at his job in which job reviews for the hiring process would address race, and sex. Each supervisor at his job was required to set a goal of making half the hires women, and the other half non -white (Studyworld.com pg.1). From the examples given it is easy to see why affirmative action could be considered by some people to be reverse discrimination. Obviously in each case someone is being discriminated against in some way. This poses the question, does affirmative action actually help discriminative acts, or does it simply change who is being discriminated against, and make it legal (Studyworld.com pg.1)?

Affirmative Action (Positive)
While there are many people who oppose affirmative action, there are also many supporters as well. Supporters of affirmative action often argue that, many minorities start at disadvantage and need as well as deserve a boost (Balancedpolitics.org pg.1). It also allows certain stereotypes to be broken, and draws people to different areas of study as well as further their education (Balancedpolitics.org pg.1). The institution of affirmative action allots many more opportunities as well. However, the most controversial argument for pro affirmative action supporters is that it is “needed to compensate minorities for centuries of slavery, or oppression (Balancepolitics.org pg. 5).”

All of these arguments in support of affirmative are valid. For example, the first argument that minority or disadvantaged students need a boost is very true. It is a fact that most minority students start out at a disadvantage because they come from lower income families. However, in most cases these students are hardworking, and intellectually capable of...
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