Should affirmative action be legal?

May 22, 2003, midnight | By Shannon Sanders | 16 years, 9 months ago

Shannon Sanders says NO: It is reverse discrimination

While the benefits of affirmative action cannot be denied, the system is not without its pitfalls. Despite all these policies have done to diversify communities and increase opportunities for all groups of people, the negative repercussions of affirmative action in many cases outweigh the positive.

Despite all affirmative action does for the non-white population, it is valid for majority students who were denied admission to colleges because of racial quotas to feel shortchanged. One of the primary aims of affirmative action is to combat the discrimination that has limited minority opportunities for years. However, turning down an exceptionally qualified white applicant in favor of a less qualified minority student is a form of "reverse discrimination" and therefore flies in the face of the purpose of the program.

It would be impossible for admissions committees to completely individualize the selection process, which would make decisions informed and entirely fair. But affirmative action individualizes admissions negatively, singling out certain qualified majority applicants from among many to make way for their minority counterparts.

Affirmative action calls into question whether college admissions and hiring strategies allow for true appreciation of applicants' raw merit. As evidenced by the recent University of Michigan controversy, majority applicants rejected due to affirmative action policies are likely to feel slighted and place blame on the minority students who were granted admission. The effect is an increase in racism rather than a decrease.

A 1997 survey conducted by Paul Sniderman of Stanford University and Edward Carmines of Indiana University lends evidence to the fact that the presence of affirmative action in college admissions breeds hostility on the part of whites. The first part of the survey found that 65 percent of whites reported being "angered" by affirmative action. The second part of the survey, in which whites were first asked their opinions on affirmative action and then asked to make generalizations about the black population, found that the very mention of affirmative action was enough to raise hostile feelings about blacks. For instance, the number of whites who agreed with the statement that "most blacks are irresponsible" raised from 26 percent to 43 percent when test subjects were asked first about affirmative action.

A goal of affirmative action is to increase diversity on campuses and in the workplace. Increased diversity should logically lead to closer interaction and better communication between racial groups. However, the resentment that affirmative action sparks between racial groups, particularly those individuals affected by affirmative action, is hostile. White students rejected by schools of their choice in deference to black students of comparable qualifications are less likely to gain a better cultural awareness than they are to feel animosity for the group of students they find accountable.

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Shannon Sanders. Shannon is stumbling through life as a Magnet senior. She's an aspiring obstetrician, who hopes to live in NYC and somehow blend seamlessly into the masses of chicness after graduating from Columbia University. She's a sort-of member of Blair's Model UN club, takes dance lessons, ... More »

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