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Affirmative Action Must Play A Role In College Admissions

2865 words - 11 pages

Anxiously awaiting its contents, the high school senior stares at his mailbox. He has been awaiting a response for months from his dream college. He has endured the endless questions from friends and family, "Did you hear from that college yet?" He has spent many a night he should have been sleeping lying in bed wondering whether he would be heading to his dream school in the fall. He has read numerous books and has done serious research on just what it took to get where he wanted to be. He continues to stare for hours, shaking from either anticipation or fear, though he cannot decide which. Finally his parents arrive home and encourage him to open the letter. He then opens the box. Now I ask this. Should this senior’s ethnicity impact whether his envelope is thin or thick? Should he have a better chance to attend his dream school because he is a minority? Or do the questions go deeper than the single factor of ethnicity?

The issue of Affirmative Action, preferences towards persons of racial minorities to compensate for prior discrimination, in college admissions is a quite complicated one. Many sides must be explored to gain a better understanding of the theories and views on this issue. It is not easily answered with a yes or no. Since its inception, Affirmative Action’s use has been a major debate in American society. Many questions are left to be investigated. Many believe that we should live in a society where preferential treatment could be eliminated, and admission to college is based solely on one’s merit and character, yet this view seems quite unrealistic.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its first decision on this complex issue with the case of Allan Bakke. Allan Bakke was a white male who applied to the University of California at Davis Medical School in 1973 and a second time in 1974. There were 100 spots in each medical school class at Davis, sixteen of which were reserved for the "special admissions" program. In 1973, Bakke received a score of 468 out of 500, but was not accepted, because he had applied late in the year due to his wife's mother's serious illness, and by this time of the year, only applicants with scores 470 or higher were accepted. There were, however, four special-admissions slots remaining, but Bakke was ineligible for these. The special admissions program at Davis was reserved for applicants from disadvantaged backgrounds, and these applicants, who were required to be from a racial minority group, were evaluated separately from the other regular-admissions applicants. In both years that he applied, Bakke's GPA was close to the average for regular admittees, but significantly higher than that of the special admittees. His MCAT scores were well above both averages. Bakke was angered but decided to apply again in 1974. He was again rejected. Bakke then sued the medical school. He claimed that the special admissions program was an unfair racial quota, a violation of the 14th amendment. In its...

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