Should Affirmative Action Be Completely Banned?

Is it reverse racial discrimination when a qualified white student is denied college admission because the space is taken by a less qualified minority?

A case that may affect affirmative action in college admissions is going to be heard at the Supreme Court. It all started when Abigail Fisher was turned down for admission to the University of Texas in 2008:

Texas provides admission for those in the top 10 percent of the state high schools. Fisher did not qualify and was put into a pool of applicants where race is considered along with other factors such as test scores, community service, leadership qualities and work experience.

She was competing for less than 20 percent of admission slots that remained. Fisher and another white female student denied admission sued, but the other applicant has already graduated from another college and has dropped out of the case.

Fisher said in the lawsuit that her academic credentials exceeded those of many minority students, but that she lost out because of a coding system in which race is used as a factor in admissions decisions to increase classroom diversity.

Needless to say, the case is generating quite the controversy:

A growing number of states are outlawing affirmative action in college admissions, suggesting the court will be taking on the subject amid growing distaste with the practice, said Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a Falls Church, Virginia, nonprofit opposed to racial preferences.

"In a country with so many different racial and ethnic groups, it becomes more and more untenable for institutions to be sorting people based on their skin color and what countries their ancestors come from," Clegg said in an interview.

Supporters of affirmative action say the experiences in those states show the continuing need for the programs.

In California, which outlawed race-based admissions at state schools through a 1996 ballot initiative, black enrollment declined throughout the system, falling to 3 percent at the state's public law schools within five years, Bollinger said. Black enrollment has since rebounded, though not to pre-1996 levels, affirmative action advocates said.

"We are still living with the tragic legacy of slavery and Jim Crow," Bollinger said. "That's a very important fact that we have to address."

What do you think? Should Affirmative Action be banned?


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I think it should be based on testing scores, period. Whoever works the hardest, gets the spot. Everything else should be blind. If it comes down to 5 or 6 students with the same score, have a lottery type scenario. "Living with the tragic legacy of slavery?" Give me a break. Just study and pass the tests, no matter who you are. Do good = get in.
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Unfortunately Stephanie, in these schools it often also is "Daddy went here/gives a lot of money to the school = get in."

Also try and pass those tests if your high school is in a depressed urban area and doesn't offer AP classes.

To pretend that all students coming into the test have had equal opportunities is just that. Pretend.

That said, race is no longer convenient shorthand for correcting for missing opportunity.

I'd like to see a score that reflects your gpa over the average gpa of those in your school as one possible factor in an application.
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Is it a racist stereotype, or do black people make less money and therefore can not spend the money on extra curricular activities and practice tests that their supposedly more affluent white counterparts can afford? I wonder if, in non affirmative action states, the family income level is the, or perhaps just a large, indicator of whether you will get enrolled or not.

But... if income is the root, how does one break the cycle and move to the next salary level without an education? It seems pretty circular, at least in my small scope. I don't know if it's a point of racism, or that it's just really difficult to make this a fair situation for anyone. BUT, who should be concerned with fair when one candidate is, in fact, more qualified vs the other?
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Bruce,

You write "I’d like to see a score that reflects your gpa over the average gpa of those in your school as one possible factor in an application."

That's what the University of Texas already does. They automatically accept the top 10% of each public high school. So students in bad schools who perform well compared to their peers in terms of GPA are automatically admitted.
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RD,

My mother has a high school degree and my father only completed the 11th grade. I am white. I worked hard in school, got all of my test prep books at the PUBLIC LIBRARY, and was accepted (on my own merits and not on my race) into college.

Neither income nor family history is an excuse not to educate yourself.

And Bruce: even depressed urban schools have libraries with free test prep books.
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