During the Obama administration, a set of guidelines were put into place that essentially tasked colleges with taking race into account for college admissions for the purpose of diversity. These affirmative action policies were the wrong call and back in July, the Trump administration formally discouraged the practice by stressing a preference for race-neutral methods.
However, this does not mean colleges have stopped the practice. While some states like California and Florida outlaw it, others around the country do not. Colleges, under any circumstances, should not utilize race as a factor of their admissions process.
Thankfully, Texas State does not currently use race as a factor in admissions, but other public universities in Texas do, such as the University of Texas at Austin, which led to the 2016 Supreme Court case Fisher v. UT, which upheld their right to do so.
While these policies are supposed to level the playing field, increase diversity and counteract bias, the problem is that they likely do none of that and instead are harming the very groups they are supposed to help, along with those who are poor.
Any cursory glance at a liberal defense of race-based admissions shows a lot of assumptions being made. Too often, supporters paint broad strokes portraying all white people as rich upper class while everyone else is poor and disadvantaged. The reality though, is that every race has its rich, its middle class and its poor. While it’s inarguable that these numbers are unequal, the argument itself makes no sense to prefer a wealthy minority over a poor white.
If the argument is that the disadvantaged should be given help to give them the same opportunity, then it makes zero sense as to why the rich person who presumably had more opportunities for a better education be given the leg up over the poor person.
This problem is exactly what occurs though. A study from the Hoover Institute found that the overwhelming majority of minorities that benefit from race-based admissions are the wealthy or middle class. The idea that they are helping the most impoverished does not stack up with the truth. Therefore, race should be excluded as a consideration but other factors, such as socioeconomic status, could create the more diverse and society while also giving the most disadvantaged in this society the leg up they desperately need, regardless of skin color.
Colleges have also found themselves in hot water over their irresponsible handling of affirmative action. Harvard is currently being sued for discriminating against Asian Americans. The suit contends that the number of Asian students is artificially capped, meaning that even if they are the best candidate, they are then overlooked. This suit is not without merit. Multiple studies have found that Asian-Americans must score high on their SATs to get the same consideration. This creates a tension that inevitably means that by discriminating against whites, colleges also discriminate against Asian-Americans.
Supporters of this policy counter this by saying this is all just a show of resentment by whites and that Asian-Americans are a pawn to overturn affirmative action, but there is very little acknowledgment that these policies do indeed harm Asian-Americans.
If affirmative action must exist, let the consideration be a socioeconomic status so that no one is harmed by the color of their skin. This was the vision of the civil rights era and yet when it benefits those of a different skin color, it is seen as a positive. This hypocritical policy should end on college campuses.
Everyone should get an equal chance to go to college but it’s no question that affirmative action policies have helped make it equal for those that would otherwise struggle to get into college. That being said, there are more effective ways to make this happen than race-based admissions and so, therefore, it should be eliminated altogether.
– Jordan Drake is a communications senior