Is Affirmative Action in College Admissions Effective?

Topics: Affirmative action, Discrimination, Supreme Court of the United States Pages: 5 (1417 words) Published: May 18, 2006
Is Affirmative Action in College Admissions Effective?

Introduction/Statement of Problem:
Allan Bakke, a white student, applied to The Medical School of the University of California in both 1973 and 1974, but was denied each time. In his place, minority students with lower GPA's and test scores were admitted due to an affirmative action program with the school. This program set aside 16% of its entering classes for minorities, reducing the admission of eligible white students. Bakke decided on suing The University of California, and in 1977, his case landed in the Supreme Court only to be known as "Regents of the University of California v. Bakke." The judges were split down the middle, four against four, until Justice Powell, the deciding factor, "voted that Bakke must be admitted" to the school (Fullinwider).

Affirmative action is a program that increases the amount of minority students in universities. It is used to increase student's knowledge about other cultures, promote equality, and reduce racism. But is affirmative action actually able to keep its promises?

Summary of Opposing Views
Despite the many efforts of affirmative action, many people believe it simply is not effective. To begin with, affirmative action is aimed at reaching diversity in schools, although merely race does not account for diversity. To have true diversity at a university in order to increase student's knowledge and awareness, more than just racial or ethnic origin should come into place. A "special admissions program, focused solely on ethnic diversity, would hinder rather than further attainment of genuine diversity" (Fullinwider). While achieving diversity, race is only one aspect. Therefore, affirmative action is flawed.

Furthermore, by accepting a minority over a white student with higher grades, affirmative action is making an exception for this person, which is not equality. It is implying that the race is not as capable of achievement. And, "by implying that minorities cannot succeed without it, affirmative action is condescending and insulting" (Messerli). Which, also is not equality.

Finally, and probably most important, affirmative action is reverse discrimination. When a goal of affirmative action is to reduce racism, it should not use what looks like to be "the same sort of injustice that blacks suffered for many years" (Newman) in its attempt to eliminate racism, because it only creates more. The five Supreme Court judges against affirmative action, known as the Stevens group, were concerned about this double standard of the program. They also were concerned about the clause "no person shall be subjected to…on the ground of race" found in the 11th amendment. "Even so, conducted Powell, the Court ‘has never approved a classification that aids persons perceived as members of relatively victimized groups at the expense of other innocent individuals'" (qtd. Justice Powell, Fullinwider)

Statement of Understanding:
I am able to understand why people would think affirmative action is ineffective. Affirmative action does not create a true diversity, and does not create complete equality. It does not erase discrimination, and it does not erase racism. Affirmative action has its flaws, and some people will always be against it. Statement of Your Position:

Although affirmative action has it's flaws, it is still able to keep its promises of increased knowledge and equality, and reduced racism.
Affirmative action is strongly needed in law schools in order to create a formal learning environment. William S. Beinecke, a Professor of Law at Columbia, Liebman, questioned, "How could we have rich discussion with a homogeneous student population?" (Bok and Bowen). Because in the 250 largest law firms in the U.S., there are 247 African American partners, or about 1 percent of the total, these law schools, like Harvard, would otherwise have nearly all white male students without affirmative action, and classroom discussions...
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