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Harvard University’s Need to End Discrimination

Jane Elliston

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Recently, a court case has been on the headlines of every newspaper, magazine article, and newscast; the Harvard University admission trial. Taken to court by Michael Wang, who describes that the admission process used by the university, known as the Harvard Plan, is forcing higher standards upon Asian American students. The plan allows for the college’s admission officers to discriminate against minority groups, such as the Asian American group, in exchange of giving an admission boost to another minority group, such that of African American or Hispanic groups, in order to “increase diversity within their school.”

This is not what was intended with affirmative action. Affirmative action is a policy put in place to favor members of a disadvantaged group that either currently suffers or has historically suffered from discrimination within a culture. The African American and Hispanic groups are gaining the extra boost they need, which there is nothing wrong with, but have Asian Americans not suffered severe discrimination throughout history as well? False depictions of culture throughout media, Japanese Internment Camps, racism that, not just the Vietnamese, but the entirety of the Asian American group and anyone of Asian descent had to face during the Vietnam War, the Oriental Exclusion Act, and of course, Harvard University’s admission policy. These are all severe forms of discrimination that Asian Americans have had to face throughout their history of living in the United States and it does not even name all of them. If anything, Asian Americans have every right to be taking advantage of thus affirmative action, but on the contrary, institutions are using it against the minority group.

The current precedent, University of California v. Bakke, upheld affirmative action and allowed for race to be one of the deciding factors in college admission, dating back to 1978. That was exactly forty years ago, in the height of the civil rights movement. It is time for change and for the Supreme Court to make a new decision.

Institutions of higher education often promise incoming students a quality education worth the financial debt and hard work put in place for all of their students, but a university’s trust becomes questionable when the school chooses to discriminate against students for the way they look. It is understandable for the university to want greater diversity within their buildings. Sometimes there are more qualified students than spots open within a class and admission officers are in need of a “tie-breaker” between students. It is realized that, in many cases, colleges use race as sort of the “tie-breaker,” to gain a benefit, in the means of diversity throughout the school, out of the admission process, but a constant use of said “tie-breaker” and in the format of discrimination towards merely one minority group against separate minority groups is rather displeasing.

There should be no need for college-admission processes to include a race or ethnicity box to check. College-admission officers should base an acceptance on a student’s individual accomplishments and achievements, rather than the race or color, because a student has no choice on how they look or what their ethnic background may entail.

Although a potential “tie-breaker” between students may be in necessary in some cases, and it could be argued that by removing race the “tie-breaker” would also be removed, but where there is a will, there is a way. Rather than an admission officer discriminating against a race or minority group, may it be suggested, that these admission officers should compare the household finances to hopefully provide students with lower income homes a slight boost in their admission.

It is often stereotyped that students must have a stable, financially well-rounded home to be capable of good grades and outstanding accomplishments. If a student has the hard work and ethic, or the ability, to achieve all of this, while also being from a home without the certain stability, it is considered rather impressive. By choosing these hardworking students over the already-well-provided students, a university is able to provide more opportunities for low income students, allowing for these students to pursue abundant resources to potentially better the world, while also providing equality between minority groups and all groups of different ethnicity.

Editors Note: to view the opposing stance on this topic by Mitch Van Cleave click here

Taking Away Affirmative Action = Taking a Step Backwards

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