Crystal Foretia
Aug 4, 2017

Trump Tackles Affirmative Action

13 comments
Rachna Shah
Aug 4, 2017

Affirmative action has its advantages (ensuring diversity, gives everyone an equal playing field - though this is slightly dubious -) and disadvantages (reverse discrimination, puts the idea of a meritocracy in doubt). As race quotas are technically not allowed and race-blind admissions are not exercised by most colleges, I do not see affirmative action being phased out any time soon. What are your thoughts on this?

Crystal Foretia
Aug 4, 2017

I think affirmative action is still necessary given how many are still discriminated and everyone starts on an unequal playing field. Let's be honest, there's an intrinsic tie between socioeconomic status and race. Many communities still have de facto segregation due to the unaffordable housing market and the "white flight" that happened after the desegregation of public schools. These poorer neighborhoods then have lower quality schools due to property taxes being their main sources of funding. Not to mention other things like poor infrastructure, unsafe water, the school to prison pipeline, etc. I feel affirmative action is needed for disadvantaged groups because it makes the application process more holistic and takes into consideration how much someone achieves given their special set of circumstances.

Rachna Shah
Aug 4, 2017

There definitely still is an unequal playing field that is related to race which affirmative action does strive to level. Do you believe that affirmative action affects the idea of a meritocracy?

Crystal Foretia
Aug 4, 2017

I think the idea of a meritocracy is great in theory but is corrupted by those who are incapable of seeing outside of their own perspective. This especially problematic in the workforce. When diversity or circumstances are taken out of consideration, those with the most power, typically white employers, are allowed not examine their bias when reviewing applicants. This partially leads to where an applicant with a black sounding name is 50% less likely to receive a callback than an applicant with a white sounding name. Affirmative action is more fair in practice than meritocracy. Check out the following articles for more details.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/06/the-perils-of-meritocracy/532215/

http://www.politifact.com/punditfact/statements/2015/mar/15/jalen-ross/black-name-resume-50-percent-less-likely-get-respo/

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/mar/20/meritocracy-inequality-theresa-may-donald-trump

Rachna Shah
Aug 4, 2017

That's a really good point that you make! The 'resume whitening effect' also applies to Asian last names (http://www.npr.org/sections/codeswitch/2017/02/23/516823230/asian-last-names-lead-to-fewer-job-interviews-still) where in Canada, people with Asian last names were 28% less likely to get called for an interview than applicants with Anglo names, though this is significantly less than applicants with black names. What would you recommend to combat this practice of everyday racism?

Crystal Foretia
Aug 4, 2017

Interestingly enough, Goldman Sachs has a good solution to hiring discrimination. My sister works in their Human Capital department and told me that they do not see the applicant's name until the interview process. When they receive an application and are determining whether or not the applicant's qualified, a number takes the place of the person's name.

Rachna Shah
Aug 5, 2017

That's a pretty interesting solution! It reminds me of color-blind applications in the college admissions process; thus, however, race would not be considered as a factor in the hiring decisions. There are also certain differences between college and job applications.

Tuhin Chakraborty
Aug 30, 2017

I have a different opinion. I completely agree that legacy admissions should be phased out, and many top tier schools, like MIT, are no longer doing legacy (see link). However, the real purpose of college is to gain an education to eventually contribute to the economy or society positively. Therefore, colleges should solely focus on getting the most intelligent/successful students. I believe that truly brilliant and deserving minorities, no matter what challenges they face, will get into good schools regardless simply based of their extracurriculars and the unique experiences they discuss in their college essays. Instead of affirmative action, we should make sure their education is as cost efficient as possible.

Yolian Ogbu
Feb 12, 2018

When discussing the benefits of affirmative action policies in higher education a lot of advocates reference the importance of having a diverse student body (which exposes students to different races and cultural perspectives they will undoubtedly encounter in the workplace) Promoting diversity, although a critical component of affirmative action, was not the intent of such laws. Two additional reasons why race conscious admission policies in higher education are still needed today are: 1) to rectify past effects of discrimination on people of color and 2) to ensure that implicit biases do not obstruct black and brown students' access to a quality college education.

Today, more than five decades since Brown v. Board of Education and James Meredith became the first black student admitted to the University of Mississippi, black and brown students in the nation receive far worse pre-k-12 public school than white children.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/us/school-data-finds-pattern-of-inequality-along-racial-lines.html?_r=4

 

ewennberg19
Feb 20, 2018

If one doesn't think that students of color should get preferential admission due to past and ongoing discrimination, (even though I personally do), here's another argument for affirmative action.

 

I think that much of the discussion surrounding affirmative action forgets the overarching task of college admissions. During the admissions process, officers are not merely selecting the best students; they are building a class. Schools get far, far many more qualified applicants that they could ever accept, so there's no reason why colleges shouldn't build a class that's racially or ethnically representative of the country's population. They should do this just as they pick students from a wide array geographically, or from a wide variety of schools, or with a broad spectrum of extracurricular interests.

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