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Affirmative Action In College Admissions Essay

1559 words - 6 pages

Affirmative action has been a controversial topic ever since it was established in the 1960s to right past wrongs against minority groups, such as African Americans, Hispanics, and women. The goal of affirmative action is to integrate minorities into public institutions, like universities, who have historically been discriminated against in such environments. Proponents claim that it is necessary in order to give minorities representation in these institutions, while opponents say that it is reverse discrimination. Newsweek has a story on this same debate which has hit the nation spotlight once more with a case being brought against the University of Michigan by some white students who claimed that the University’s admissions policies accepted minority students over them, even though they had better grades than the minority students. William Symonds of Business Week, however, thinks that it does not really matter. He claims that minority status is more or less irrelevant in college admissions and that class is the determining factor.

According to the Encyclopædia Britannica, affirmative action is “an active effort to improve employment or educational opportunities for members of minority groups and women.” However, despite its well-intentioned policies, it has been the source of much controversy over the years. Barbara Scott and Mary Ann Schwartz mention that “proponents of affirmative action argue that given that racism and discrimination are systemic problems, their solutions require institutional remedies such as those offered by affirmative action legislation” (298). Also, even though racism is no longer direct, indirect forms still exist in society and affirmative action helps direct. On the other hand, opponents to affirmative action make the argument that it is reverse discrimination to hire or admit minorities of whites based on race. For instance, “[in] the California higher education system, affirmative action based on race has been eliminated by popular referendum” (298).

The April 14, 2003 edition of Newsweek’s article titled “Michigan’s Day in Court” brings to light the controversy surrounding affirmative action. It claims that the case against the University of Michigan is the biggest case concerning affirmative action in 25 years. In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled, in what is known as the Bakke case, “that quotas and two-track admissions systems were unconstitutional, but upheld the vague notion of using race as one of many ‘plus’ factors in admissions.” In the Michigan case, three white students have brought the school to court over the fact that they believe the school accepted less-qualified minorities over themselves. They hope the court will put a ban on using race as a determining factor. As it stands right now, University of Michigan admits applicants using a 150-point system. Minorities and underprivileged people get an extra 20 points by default. The Michigan law school does not use this system; rather, it uses a...

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