On Affirmative Action

The recent Supreme Court case brought on by one very white Abigail Noel Fisher made me laugh. And the fact that she tried to bring Asian-Americans into her plight was just …

Clearly, affirmative action wasn’t why she didn’t get into her university of choice. She would have fared better if she pointed out the other preferential treatments colleges hand out, like legacies, athletes, and “special” favors. This opinion piece does a good job summarizing the University of Texas’ admission policy. What it fails to consider is how Asian-Americans are indeed harmed by affirmative action in terms of admissions. Just because there is a high population of Asian-Americans students at a school doesn’t mean they were admitted through affirmative action policies. Because let’s be real here: it’s much more likely that they got in by being in the top 10% of their class. In fact, it’s definitely how they got in because affirmative action doesn’t aid the Asian-American population whatsoever.

It also fails to investigate how higher hurdles are placed for Asian to bar an overhaul of the student body by an ~Asian Invasion~.

A 2005 Princeton study found the SAT points on the 1600 point scale that were added to and taken from certain groups: Blacks +230, Hispanics +185, Asians –50, recruited athletes +200, and legacies +160.

A 2009 study found that white students were three times, Hispanic students six times, and black students 15 times more likely than Asian-Americans to be accepted into universities. YEAH. I had a great time applying to colleges.

Look at the racial demographics of some schools that utilize affirmative action:

NYU: Total number of Undergraduates: 22,280; White: 41%; Asian/Pacific Islander: 20%; Hispanic: 9%; African American/Black: 4%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.4%; International: 10%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 14% [2011]

UGA: Total number of Undergraduates: 35,552; White: 74.9%; Hispanic: 9%; African American/Black: 7.4%; Asian/Pacific Islander: 5.9%;American Indian/Alaskan Native: 2.6%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 3%; International: 3.6% [2011]

BU: Total number of Undergraduates: 15,977; White: 50.6%; Asian/Pacific Islander: 14%; Hispanic: 8.6%; African American/Black: 3.2%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.2%; International: 11.6%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 11.8%; [2011]

Columbia University: Total number of Undergraduates: 8,103; White: 88.1%; Asian/Pacific Islander: 14.8%; Hispanic: 13.3%; African American/Black: 7.7%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0.6%; International: 12%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 6.4% [2011]

Now look to California, where Prop. 209 essentially eliminated the use of affirmative action in college admissions. You will note a stark drop in white students, a small drop in black students, and that the percentage of Hispanic students actually increases (though that can be explained by the highly concentrated Hispanic population living in California).

Berkeley: Total number of Undergraduates: 25,151; Asian/Pacific Islander: 43%; White: 32%; Hispanic: 12%; African American/Black: 4%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 1%; International: 3% [2011]

UCLA: Total number of Undergraduates: 26,536; Asian/Pacific Islander: 38%; White: 34%; Hispanic: 15%; African American/Black: 1%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 0%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 5%; International: 4% [2011]

UCSD: Total number of Undergraduates: 23,143; Asian/Pacific Islander: 48%; Caucasian: 26%; Hispanic: 13%; African-American: 2%; Native-American: 0%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 10% [2011]

UC Davis: Total number of Undergraduates: 24,209; Asian/Pacific Islander: 41%; White: 36%; Hispanic: 13%; African American/Black: 3%; American Indian/Alaskan Native: 1%; Race/Ethnicity Unknown: 6%; International: 2% [2011]

… Need I go on?

Without affirmative action, people get into schools on merit alone. And this leads to an abundance of Asian students, and a lower percentage of students of other races. So indeed, affirmative action in higher education actually helps white people and works against Asian-Americans. We need higher SAT scores to get into schools, and essentially compete with one another in a rather vicious battle to get into good ones.

So in a way, thanks ignorant white people who are fighting against affirmative action. I didn’t know you cared!

But really:

Because I am definitely for affirmative action. Though, it could do with a few tweaks, like not limiting the opportunities of one of the smallest minority groups living in America. In theory, if affirmative action didn’t bar so many Asian students, there would be a more even spread of them and therefore more diversity at different schools. All colleges should also look at schools on a case-by-case basis, so students from all different areas would have a fair chance. It should promote diversity in all fields—in terms of race, income, orientation, gender, location, etc.

I was furious that I was attending Boston College with a relatively homogenous bunch of rich, ignorant white people who had much lower high school grades and credentials than I did, when some of my very accomplished Asian friends didn’t even get in. With people who harassed minorities and felt comfortable openly talking shit about them in front of their faces. With a guy who mistook me for the Korean girl who always sat next to me in class, even though we looked nothing alike (different hair color, different skin tone, height, body types, features, everything) and he spent hours with her in the library the night before. With people who asked me, “… Did you see that huge group of Asians? Why do they only hang out with each other?” when they themselves only hung out with other white people. With people who actually argued with and insisted to minorities that BC was indeed an extremely diverse school, even when presented with the fact that it was rated one of the least diverse schools in America. Under an administration that covered up who knows how many hate crimes, and permitted the prejudiced behavior of the campus police—an administration that brought in metal detectors for only the minority government-run events (and why the hell did they instate a separation between the “normal” aka white and minority student governments?).

And affirmative action isn’t meant to help only people of certain races. It’s meant to help any minority group. It’s there to level the playing field and work towards a future of equal opportunity. And given that men and white people still get paid more than women and minorities, you have to question how much the leg-up on a collegiate level even gives. Also, fun fact: affirmative action helps men of all races get into college with lower grades.

… Yeah.

Just like you can’t pick and choose which parts of the Bible you’ll emphasize and which you won’t even acknowledge, you can’t pick and choose who affirmative action will help and when it’s permissible. Affirmative action isn’t a black and white issue. So don’t forget to cover that hot mess of a cake in yellow frosting.


4 thoughts on “On Affirmative Action

  1. I’m against affirmative action since it’s typically only based on race. In fact, I don’t think there should be a race box to check on a college application. I understand that would dramatically reduce diversity though.

    If we really want to solve this issue of minorities getting into college, then we need to give them better resources when they’re young, especially building strong foundations in elementary and middle school even if they don’t go to college. That way it’ll help level out the playing field. Or we can redesign the college process and admit everyone who wants to go to college, have them go through a trial during the summer, and eliminate those who don’t make it.

    Let’s just say I understand how Abigail feels, and I do think she has a valid case. It’s similar to when I applied for a student job at the library because I wanted librarianship experience for grad school. I didn’t get it because I didn’t have a work study that only low income students get. That’s reverse discrimination and it’s not OK. It limits the number of opportunities people have.

    • How does she have a case though? As a white person, she actually benefits from affirmative action. And I think you mean low-income families and not minorities in terms of who you want to give better resources. Also, students on work-study need the income to help pay for college. It wouldn’t be fair to give a spot to someone who comes from a background that allows them to have the luxury of not working. Did you try volunteering at a library off-campus?

      • Well, I actually do have to work to survive at college since I pay room and board. I don’t have the luxury of not working just because my parents make enough to pay for tuition. Secondly, I don’t have time to work, take classes, keep up my GPA for grad school, and drive 20 minutes off campus to the nearest library to volunteer. Besides, a campus library and a public library are run differently.

        Since you’re claiming that affirmative action benefits minorities, Abigail doesn’t actually benefit from affirmative action because she’s the majority race in the south. In Texas, Asians are a huge minority, so therefore, there probably aren’t that many applying to college in Texas unless they come from another state or are international students. Hispanics are the majority, but my guess is that most of them are illegal and don’t apply for college. Blacks are a minority, too, according to Wikipedia. Therefore, it’s set against white people who are the majority applying to colleges. You quote stats from California, but demographically, the south is very different from California. The closet you get is probably UGA, and that’s still different from Texas.

        But I think the biggest issue here is affirmative action helps people with lower GPAs and scores to get into college. Why should people who score lower than her get in when she’s better suited because she has better grades? That’s suggesting that college isn’t about merit at all and more about socialization. If so, then we seriously need to rethink the purpose of college and stop lying to ourselves that college is for smart people.

      • Did you really read my post? I say that only Asian-Americans suffer from affirmative action in colleges. Look at the white student body in schools that use and don’t use AA. And your assumptions that most Hispanics living in Texas are illegal and therefore don’t apply for college is disgusting. And you also fail to account that students are known to apply outside their states for schooling. Also, just because a majority of applicants are white by the logic that the majority of Texans are white doesn’t mean that the majority by merit gets into UT Austin. Please re-read my post on the logistics of college apps. The boost white students get from AA policies is state-wide.

        The demographics of UT Austin in 2011 was 4.6% black, 17.9% Asian, 20% Hispanic, and 50.4% white. The automatically admitted freshman class was 6% black, 19% Asian, 29% Hispanic, and 41% white (as in they were the top 10% of their class). Those admitted through other means was 60% white, 16% Asian, 10% Hispanic, and 4% black. In terms of income, the higher income brackets actually benefitted from the “other admission” system (61% came from backgrounds of families making $100,000+). See this PDF: http://www.utexas.edu/student/admissions/research/AdmittedFreshmenProfile-2011.pdf.

        How do you not see that Abigail has no case here, or that affirmative action doesn’t really make the dent everyone thinks it does?

        If your argument is that she was qualified, why didn’t she get in automatically? If she had the grades for it, we wouldn’t be talking about this. Why didn’t she get in with the 60% white freshmen who got in through the other systems (certainly being an athlete or having good extra-circulars would have helped)? Why is it so hard for very qualified Asian-American students to get into school? Because they are weeded out with higher standards to make room for students of other races under the BS guise affirmative action brings that the student body should reflect the wider population, ignoring the demographics of who actually applies to college AND has the academic chops to get in.

        And yes, you had to pay room and board and your parent’s didn’t lend a hand, but students on work study don’t have parents with the ABILITY to even try to lend a hand. Oftentimes lower income students are also paying for their own tuitions, not just room and board. And many students from lower income backgrounds can’t afford to have a car on campus. And given how many students from lower income families tend to be minorities and how racism is institutionalized in the workplace, it would be harder for them to get a job than a white person off-campus. And why do you think that work study students have the time to do this balancing act and you don’t? Work study students usually don’t work just an hour or two a week, and many manage to work ridiculous amounts and get good grades. My roommate senior year worked a 30 minute walk off-campus mornings and nights and it came out to 30-40 hours per week. My other roommate worked maybe 20 hours per week. I also worked 20, and we all did successfully in school. I managed to get a 3.65 GPA at BC’s business school. You find ways to balance all these acts.

        How long does it take to walk to your library from your dorm, anyway? If you subtract that from your driving time, I doubt it will make so much of a dent in your time. If your motivation was to get experience working at a library, you could have made it your priority. There are so many ways you could budget 30 extra minutes (ie give up a TV show to days you’re not working, go to bed later). These jobs on campus were MADE specifically to be filled by work study students. And why did it have to be an on-campus library? If public and campus libraries are different, wouldn’t public library working experience be more applicable for grad school? Unless you’re planning on dealing with strictly campus libraries.

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