/Affirmative Action

Affirmative Action

Is practicing really helping in the way it was intending?
By Henley Holland

For as long as I can remember, I have been told that your gender or your race are aspects of your life you have no control over, therefore they cannot define you. Yet, as the deadline for college admissions looms closer, I cannot help but feel the irony of these teachings.

As a female, I have a far higher chance of being admitted into a STEM program. Not because of my qualifications, but because of my gender. They cite the skewed gender ratio in the profession as the reasoning behind this, but if I have not put in the same dedication as my male counterpart, why should I be favored because of my gender? I don’t see that as equal opportunity for me and the other members of the female sex. In fact, if I want a slot in a competitive STEM program, I should have to put in the same, if not more, work as the other applicants and not fear I earned my place because of affirmative action, but instead because I was qualified.

Since the implementation of affirmative action, there have been many cases brought to the Supreme court to challenge this agenda. Perhaps one of the most talked about cases involving affirmative action and college admissions was Fisher v. University of Texas. Fisher, a young white prospective student, was rejected and proceeded to take up legal arms against the university due to the fact she believed she was a victim of “reverse discrimination.” She claims her academic credentials, while not up to par with the averages of the white students, exceeded the averages of the minority students. Fisher claims that her race was the deciding factor in her acceptance, which she found was discriminatory and racist towards her white ethnicity.

Now, the court sided with the University of Texas, stating their policies upheld the values of affirmative action fairly. While this benchmark allowed the legality of race as an admissions factor, there have been statistics stating that minority enrollment at top colleges has declined over the past few decades. So how effective is this program truly if there has been no tangible improvement in these conditions?

As I continue to apply to college, why should I be worrying whether or not I will get into more prestigious colleges not because of my grades or test scores, but because of my ethnicity? I might be a woman going into a STEM field, but I am still white and from the affluent community of Parker, Colorado, which puts me at a huge disadvantage when it comes to admissions. Now, while I understand minorities often come from disadvantaged backgrounds, I still put in countless hours of work into my academic career, and why are my achievements not just as important because I am of the caucasian ethnicity?

Race should not be a factor in college admissions, in fact, it really shouldn’t be included in the application at all. In my opinion, leaving off names, race, gender, and income for applications would produce the most well rounded and fair estimate of the potential of a student for colleges. The factors I have no control over should not define me as a candidate, after all, what does my heritage have to do with my potential for success?