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Affirmative Action's Role in Colleges and Universities

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Essay title: Affirmative Action's Role in Colleges and Universities

Affirmative Action

Affirmative action's role in colleges and universities has been a strongly debated topic. The heated subject has again come to the forefront due to the recent bans imposed on affirmative action by California and Washington. In 1978, the Supreme Court ruled (University of California Regents v. Bakke) that universities are allowed to consider race as a factor when choosing which students to accept. Affirmative action was intended to level the racial playing field and give minorities chances in the workplace and the classroom that they would not have received in the absence of affirmative action. However, while minorities have had more opportunities, Caucasians have suffered. This so-called reverse discrimination hurts whites and minorities, because all races are not being treated equally. Affirmative action has played an important role in colleges and universities throughout America. Race is a major factor when it comes to the college admissions process. In most of the nation's colleges and universities, minorities receive priority when colleges look at prospective incoming freshman. The majority of the nation's schools accept minorities before more-qualified whites, hurting both races. The main reason minorities are admitted? It is not due to their SAT scores, their involvement in high school activities, or their grade point averages. They are admitted because of the color of their skin. Colleges and universities that accept under qualified minorities over Caucasians are practicing discrimination. As a result of this unfair practice, the races have been further delineated and racial tension has continued to grow on college campuses. Supporters of affirmative action in colleges state that it promotes racial diversity and helps level the playing field between minorities and more fortunate Caucasians. However, the question that is posed to many college and university leaders is: Does a culturally diverse student body improve the learning environment more than the best possible students would? In order to promote the most positive intellectual atmosphere for students at colleges and universities, rather then attempting to achieve a diverse campus, the best students should be admitted.

School leaders in favor of affirmative action use racial diversity or economic reasons to support their stance. Many believe that by diversifying college and university campuses, the learning environment is improved. The President of Rice University, Malcolm Gillis, believes: "As institutions of higher education, we benefit greatly from the presence of an ethically and culturally diverse group of students; their experiences and perspectives enrich our campus community intellectually and in all other ways" (Gillis). A culturally diverse group of students obviously adds to the learning experience at college because not everything that you learn at college is academic. College helps prepare students to enter the American workforce and also aids students in life preparation. Students become more open to other races, traditions, and beliefs by attending a racially mixed school. Another commonly used reason for the preferential treatment of minorities in the admissions process is that affirmative action helps less fortunate blacks and Hispanics into college. "In general, blacks and Hispanics score lower on college exams than whites and Asians" (Sanchez). Educators believe that this difference in exam scores occurs primarily because many blacks and Hispanics are from "disadvantaged families or mediocre schools" (Sanchez). "Many colleges say that until that chronic gap is closed, they must use race as a factor in admissions to ensure a racially diverse student body" (Sanchez).

Although most higher education leaders support it, the general consensus of the American people is that affirmative action should be abolished in the college admissions process. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that three out of four Americans surveyed opposed affirmative action programs. The poll found that they "opposed affirmative action programs that give preference to minorities to make up for past discrimination" (Morin and Warden). Also, more than two-thirds of the people surveyed believe that those programs should be altered or eliminated (Morin and Warden). The survey also found that the issue of affirmative action is sharply divided between blacks and whites. Furthermore, within communities of color, there exists a major debate about affirmative action. Nearly half of all African Americans interviewed said that they opposed affirmative action programs giving partiality to minorities (Morin and Warden). Preferential treatment of minorities in America's colleges and universities should not continue since the majority of whites and a significant percentage of blacks do not believe in affirmative action in

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