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Discourse Around Affirmative Action

affirmative action

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Affirmative action has been challenged since its introduction in the ’60s. Today, Students for Fair Admission are suing Harvard University for unfairly accepting students based on their race rather than merit.

They claim that White and Asian-Americans are being discriminated against in the applicant process due to their race. Is this the fall of Affirmative Action or something deeper?

Going back to the infancy of this policy, many argued that this policy excluded white students. This later included Asian-Americans. Time and time again, there are students who claim that they were declined from an Ivy League because they did not fit the quota.

Universities had a quota system until it was ruled unconstitutional in the ’70s. Therefore, a quota system is not in place at any U.S. University today.

Diversity still needs to be represented on college campuses. By being race-conscious, universities were still able to recognize diverse applicants while remaining constitutional.

They apply a holistic review to their applications. With a holistic review, race is one of many factors considered. Other factors include essay, GPA, extracurriculars, and more. However, Edward Blum, leader of Students for Fair Admission,  continually blames a student’s race, White and Asian-American, for being the main reasoning behind their rejection.

Many question Blum’s motives. Up until recent years, Blum has just begun speaking out for Asian-Americans students. The Harvard case is a prime example.

There are speculations that he is only using these students as pawns in his racist agenda. By using Asian-American students, he would also be benefitting white students. It comes down to if this is a civil rights or an individual issue.

The percentage of Asian-American admits is going up every year. White students remain the majority at Harvard. Every year, the applicant pools get more competitive.

This is not an issue of the system discriminating against a certain race such as White or Asian-American students, but an issue regarding how difficult it is to be accepted to a top university.  Is opposition truly fighting for the Asian-Americans and White students as a whole or for themselves to earn a spot at an Ivy League?

Because they holistically review applications, there are many factors to explain their denial. Race does not present a higher importance than any other. Students are accepted to these universities because they are well rounded in most of the factors considered.

A Black or Hispanic/Latino student does not take a place from a White or Asian-American student based solely on their race. If they were, why are they still two of the lowest represented races at Harvard?

If affirmative action is eliminated, we would see diversity among campuses across the country plummet. Diversity creates a campus that mirrors the world awaiting them beyond graduation.

Every admit deserves their position at their university. Universities celebrate student’s heritage and do wish for students to conceal parts of themselves in hopes of being accepted into their institution.

Affirmative action provides an opportunity for minority students to attend prestigious universities, especially first-generation students who were accepted on their own merit, not through a legacy program thanks to their parent. Though the system has its flaws, it provides a respectable foundation for diversity in universities.

By: Vivianna Shields



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