Rising senses of dismay and spitefulness towards Affirmative Action in college admissions stigmatizes people of color. As we live in an era where polarization is at its highest, Affirmative Action has been boiled down to a simple sentence: reverse racism that gets under-qualified black and brown minorities into colleges. This statement is wrong on many counts.
The first is relatively simple: public universities have banned gender and racial preferences in their admissions process. If a private institution is dedicated to having a more diverse class, and that is a dealbreaker for some prospective students, then the ladder is an alternative.
In a debate between merit and diversity, the Assistant Director at MIT Admissions, Chris Peterson, confesses that “…not all students admitted to MIT are equally well prepared,” because of their different backgrounds, but “ all students at MIT are sufficiently prepared to succeed at MIT.” It is painstakingly obvious that colleges do not want to admit a student that cannot handle its rigor. A student falling out is detrimental to all parties involved.
According to prepscholar, African Americans and Latinx individuals on average score lower than Asian American and White students. So how do colleges admit POC?
Standardized testing predicts socioeconomic status and exposes the historical racioeconomic wage gap in America.
Standardized testing predicts socioeconomic status and exposes the historical racioeconomic wage gap in America. Colleges that practice holistic admissions take context into account and evaluate students based on their specific background. Imagine a thousand people interview for a job. Only 500 are prepared to do what the job requires. There are 100 spots that need to be filled. There are two ways to approach this problem. You can either line the candidates up with respect to the ranking of their college prestige, or you can select candidates based on creating a more dynamic workplace.
The argument against affirmative action is less about racial quotas and more about continuing cyclic discrimination. Unfortunately, U.S. history derives from the capitalization on deprivation of African Americans. For example, slavery, the failed Special Field Orders 15, the denial of civil rights, disenfranchisement, and the list continues.
Even though white women benefit the most from Affirmative Action, we have seen the Students For Fair Admission sue Harvard because race is considered in their admission. With Supreme Court cases like the Fischer v University of Texas, and the Trump administration propagating that Affirmative Action discriminates against white college students, students of color are often targeted.
Harvard, for example, admitted a class of 1,950 students in 2023, comprising about 288 Black and African American students. Meanwhile, over 300 white students were recruited athletes, legacies, those on the dean’s interest list, and children of faculty and staff. Any adversary of affirmative action should really examine how many of these minority students were less qualified and admitted because of affirmative action. The conservative groups that pour money into seeing affirmative action’s demise could not care less about equity. They are among the parents that put their children into collegiate preparatory schools that feed ivies, pay for them to get extra time on standardized testing, and call in favors to be on an institution’s dean’s interest list.
Students who were not accepted at their institution of choice should stop using affirmative action to explain their rejection. They should instead target the system that gives the most seats away to the privileged, those who have access and wealth.