Arguments For And Against Affirmative Action

1161 words - 5 pages

Every year at the same time, thousands of students face the same difficult decision: What college should I attend? Consider two young men both of the highest intellectual capacity and deserving of admission into the nation's most prestigious institution. Steven, high school All American, student body President, and leader of the debate team, hopes to be admitted to the university of his dreams. Christopher, most valuable player in the high school division and aspiring NBA athlete, wants to attend college with students of the same caliber. Steven's parents are both successful neurosurgeons at the local hospital planning to see to it that their son is awarded recognition for his efforts. Christopher's mother, unemployed and unable to care for her family, is optimistic that her son will succeed regardless. Now, the university has a tough decision to make. Christopher receives his letter, thanking him for applying but denying his admission, encouraging him to apply at a later date. After all, Christopher is white and, according to Affirmative Action, Steven is more deserving of admission based on his ethnicity which "increases the diversity of the institution by allowing students of different races and cultures the same opportunities."(1) But does it?

Affirmative Action, a remedy that federal courts used to impose on violators of the Civil Rights Act, was originally introduced in 1961 by President Lyndon Johnson to counteract years of mistreatment that minorities faced. The definition, which has also been under fire from all debating sides denotes that it is a program that aims to "overcome the effects of past societal discrimination by allocating jobs and resources to members of specific groups, such as minorities and women."(2) According to Justice Marshall of the Supreme Court in the early 1970s, the goal was to empower individuals not any specific racial groups. Over time the goals shifted from equality among the masses to diversity, which brings forth the issue at hand. Many have disputed and a clear point of view is still at bay. Does a systematic process of diversifying the workplace and universities truly bring equality?

One of the strongest arguments against this selective process according to a staff writer for The Christian Science Monitor is that it "violates the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act." It is said that the 14th Amendment does not allow this form of preferential treatment in any case noting that "no person shall be denied the equal protection of the laws."(3) The same individuals wonder after a level playing field has been made, what the purpose is of Affirmative Action. How can a program that is said to foster a more livable community where esteemed professionals do not exist still discriminate against other individuals?

Take for example the story of Allan Bakke. The white student who possessed higher grades and test scores than a great percentage of other applicants. Bakke was denied admission into...

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