By Amelia Young ‘22
In a country made up of a wide variety of races, affirmative action is a policy that was put in place almost 60 years ago to ensure that these groups were not discriminated against when applying for jobs or to colleges. Although these policies have created equal opportunities among races, there have been plenty of cases in which these policies have actually hurt applicants, resulting in frequent controversy.
An example of a controversial affirmative action case occurred this past year when Asian-American applicants filed a lawsuit accusing Harvard of discriminating against them. The Asian-American students claimed that Harvard systematically discriminated against them by restricting the number of qualified Asian Americans from attending the school in order to make room for less qualified students of other races.
Although Harvard’s affirmative action policy was trying to encourage students of other races with less privileged backgrounds to apply, they actually did the opposite by discouraging Asian Americans from applying.
This policy also suggested that Asian Americans should be held to a higher standard because of the stereotype that Asian students are smarter than their peers of other races.
This particular case maintains that affirmative action is a harmful system that allows for discrimination against certain races.
Several states have already banned universities from using affirmative action as a part of their admissions process, and for good reason.
Rather than using the color of an applicant’s skin to determine if an applicant is qualified to attend a certain college or apply for a certain job, their academics, extracurriculars, and other qualifications should be considered. An alternative to affirmative action could be to consider the socioeconomic status of applicants, which could favor those of historically oppressed races.
In theory, affirmative action is a smart fix to discrimination in admission processes, but the policy is flawed and simply gives institutions reason to discriminate based on race. Instead of applicants partially relying on their race to be accepted into colleges and workplaces, applicants should rely on their work ethic and drive for success.
This article is in response to the Op-Ed published in the November 2018 edition of the Indian Post: “Affirmative Action creates a fairer system.”