Should race-based affirmative action for college admissions be replaced with socioeconomic affirmative action?
My friend recently wrote an editorial for our college newspaper about affirmative action that was prompted by the current case before the Supreme Court of Fisher v. University of Texas. The case concerns Abigail Fisher, a white student challenging the use of race as one of many factors used to admit students to the... show more Update: None of the thumbs downs are from me.See Answer 10 Add Answers
My answer is an annoying yes but no.
I support Affirmative Action in principle, but have very little praise to offer for the execution of these policies.
If Affirmative Action policies were applied the way they are theorized, we would be able to see that socioeconomic status and race are strongly linked in our society, and we wouldn't need to analyze this question. We would be able to acknowledge that visible minorities living under the poverty line and at the bottom of the capitalist food chain need to be successfully integrated in institutions of higher learning and work environments, for the benefit of the whole community. We wouldn't need to bury our heads under the sand by keeping Affirmative Action as strictly racial, but speak of race and poverty as two realities that go hand in hand and affect our communities.
However, it is my opinion that we don't like to talk about social classes in this country. One has to try to have an educated conversation about class and economics in order to miss talking about race. This is why I believe Affirmative Action has turned into a band-aid solution, reduced to admitting a limited quota of Blacks and Latinos into universities and giving them jobs in the private sector, but not bothering to see that these admissions have a positive and real impact in the communities that birth and raise these and other minorities, and finally, on the town/city/state as a whole.
Affirmative Action is timid, as almost every social program in place. I believe it needs to be recreated and applied by accepting that we are seeking to benefit poor minorities directly, and everyone else indirectly. However, I believe most liberals are happy thinking that Affirmative Action as it is does enough to fight classism or racism, so they leave it at that, and conservatives, obviously, think its utter nonsense and we need to "get over it".
Yup, make it about socioeconomic status, and make those who are two-times screwed the priority of the policy. Two times screwed because you are a visible minority first, and poor and underprivileged second. As a poor white college student, I have no problem letting a few of my non-white fellow students make it before I do, because it is their families, their neighborhoods and their younger generations who need racial and economic integration more desperately. Affirmative Action didn't get me into college, even though as a person with a permanent disability I could theoretically expect to get a bone thrown my way, and I am not bitter about that.
This wouldn't really benefit Abigail Fisher and her cheerleaders. It is not the type of reform that her crowd would like to see. It is the change I believe we need though. I am ok with saying that it is not the fairest or most perfect policy, but in a world where non-whites make the most sacrifices to keep the status quo going, I believe us melanine deficient people can live with this one.
(I know I am not the democratically chosen representative of white people or even white college students).
Well, I would think that socioeconomic is better than race because being poor is the real handicap. Unfortunately, racial discrimination still exists and we may need the current affirmative action. The other problem with affirmative action is that, in my opinion, does not create equality at all. And is unfair too. I would ideally want something that merits actual ability and not race or how much money you had. We do not live in an ideal world though.
Some people are heavily disadvantaged because of the circumstances in which they develop. A poor family, which is disproportionately minority, will have far fewer chances to help their child academically. A wealthier family, usually not a minority, has massive academic advantages.
The idea of trying to balance this, somewhat, through affirmative action for socioeconomic factors does make sense. It is an imperfect system that can be exploited. It doesn't sound fair at face value and appears to reward those who less fortunate.
The reality is that students in inner-Watts, Newark, Patterson, Camden, West St. Louis (or is it East?) and many other hell-holes of cities, have no chance without some extra consideration.
We can let the people in the inner-cities drown, but that will cost us dearly in the long run: both morally and financially.
I would have to know far more about Abigail Fisher before I would answer her posit about affirmative action. Why? Because I would want to know if the axe she was grinding could have been caused by her own actions or if she was truly discriminated against. For instance: Was her GPA her best effort or did she lallygag through school and then get PO-ed because someone supplanted her on the list by virtue of racial preference?
There are arguments pro and con about the weight race should be given. We do know that discrimination has kept many highly qualified people out of the best schools. Is it therefore fair to weight a tie in their favor now to balance the scales of a higher justice?
My definitive position would be when you have a higher qualified applicant, should race bump that person in favor of a lower qualified person of color? I would say NO!
I agree with Adam who, as I hear it, doesn't believe the current standards are good enough and that any improvement has to take into account All the factors, advantage and disadvantage alike, with particular emphasis on economic and previous education factors.
Ethnicity and standards based on it are no measure of anyone, but the standards in question must take into account all the relevant factors in those lives and, given how people are judged, must consider prejudice and discrimination of any type; as long as discrimination exists, the standards used must reflect the disadvantages of those judgments as well as the other factors in the lives of the applicants.
Given that, I don't think there should be an emphasis on ethnicity per se, I think that there needs to be a rational accounting, an admission, of the other resulting disadvantages and an individual assessment in each case with particular emphasis on economic and educational factors; what has been available and is currently available to that student.
That's about as generic as a stump speech, but what I'm trying to say is that unless there's a clear reason why your ethnicity alone is a factor, it shouldn't be a consideration. It's the disadvantages so often seen As A Result of prejudice, discrimination and poverty that must be considered and it's That part we need to improve; what people live with because of the judgements they live with and the effects on the students.