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Crimson Newsmagazine

Crimson Newsmagazine

Crimson Newsmagazine

PRO: Affirmative Action Betters College Campuses by Kalani Gaviola

As December cold creeps in and high school seniors begin completing their college applications, there is an undeniable sense of uncertainty in the Class of 2024’s admissions process. How could there not be, as these students, including myself, stand in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling 6-3 on Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and University of North Carolina (UNC), a June 2023 case that resulted in the end of affirmative action in college admissions?

Affirmative actionrefers to any set of policies in place to ensure equal opportunity and prevent discrimination based on a broad range of identities”. In college admission, it means that the admission officer will consider race when deciding acceptances. This practice usually results in underrepresented minorities, such as Black, Latino, and Indigenous Americans being advantaged in undergraduate/graduate admission, while White and especially Asian Americans (who are overrepresented in higher education) are put at a disadvantage. This fact ultimately drew criticism for violating the 14th Amendment, which provides citizens “equal protection under the laws”, and influenced the court’s decision to do away with it.

As a mixed Asian and White American planning to apply to some of the nation’s top universities, the news should be comforting. The decision means that there is one less factor working against me in college admission, and the school of my dreams might be that much more in my reach. 

But, even with all of that in mind, I still cannot help but mourn the loss of affirmative action. 

I still cannot help but mourn the loss of affirmative action. 

Affirmative action exists because of the historical overlooking of minorities, which put them at a significant disadvantage in building wealth compared to their white counterparts. It is a tool to rectify this mistake, and we are still not so far from this past; it is only a few decades since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination and his dream of a non-segregated society. To deny our past is to risk forgetting it. Critics of affirmative action worry about unfairness and violation of the 14th Amendment but misunderstand the context of the Amendment and its purpose of diversity. 

And though diversity is a plus, race has never been the only factor in modern college admissions. Critics worry about accepted applicants being “unqualified” but little data supports that droves of unqualified applicants are getting in because of their race. Even with increased diversity and affirmative action efforts from Harvard, the class of 2023 reported having an average unweighted GPA of 3.95, a SAT score of 1523, and 2+ leadership positions, and these standards have done nothing but get more competitive through the years. If affirmative action had allowed unqualified applicants to get in, this competition surely would have died down. 

It’s also important to consider the nature of college admission. The fact of the matter is that there is no lack of colleges in America- the majority admit most students who apply, regardless of race. Affirmative action is mostly seen at elite colleges with acceptance rates of 25% or less- colleges, whose populations make up only 6% of total college students in America

Therefore, it seems discussions around affirmative action are highly hypothetical, often starring high-achieving kids who think they should’ve gotten into schools where no one’s spot is guaranteed. I’ve seen many shift the blame away from their extracurriculars, essays, or interviews and onto affirmative action, blaming their race instead of any of the many other factors admissions use to decide acceptances, unable to “take the blame”. 

Elitism drives the so-called victims of this phenomenon: I’ve seen them regard their commitments to non-elite schools like a death sentence, disregarding the educational opportunities that might be found somewhere just because they aren’t “Top 20 Schools”, despite the fact one can be successful after graduating from anywhere. Though elite colleges do provide some additional opportunities, one should not base their entire success on the college they go to. Mentality drives success, not alma maters. 

Past the individuals behind these discussions, it’s been proven that facilitating diversity is a worthwhile task for educational spaces. Researchers find that people in diverse communities are less prejudiced and have greater general well-being: in a highly divided America, adding more diverse perspectives to university communities could help fight unconscious bias and leave students from all different groups with a better understanding of the world around them.

Affirmative action isn’t only for the kids getting accepted; it’s for the betterment of education in and outside the classroom. 

Private colleges should have a right to preserve this power and therefore allow for more interesting conversations and more thoughtful solutions. Ultimately, affirmative action isn’t only for the kids getting accepted; it’s for the betterment of education in and outside the classroom. 

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