Fix affirmative action

Allison Pritchard

Minorities are unfortunately still discriminated against on numerous occasions. Something needs to be done to fix the problem – something to ensure people are not disqualified based on skin color. Not something that ensures people are given extra points for certain skin colors. Current Affirmative Action programs that give preferred treatment to groups who have traditionally been discriminated against aren’t the answer to discrimination. The artificial “help” only perpetuates stereotypes and racism.

A major problem with current Affirmative Action policies is they mainly identify discrimination by race. What about poor white kids? True diversity includes difference of opinion and culture, not just different physical characteristics.

Some policies imply all people of one race are the same and they are too inept to get into college, get a good job, etc. on their own merits. Genetic differences, something people can’t control, shouldn’t even be a factor when choosing applicants. Skin color tells nothing about a person’s character or abilities. Affirmative Action creates a stigma and draws attention to race, which is the opposite of its goal.

When a white woman applies to a college or job, with good grades, proactive personality, leadership skills and other qualifications, and another slightly less qualified black woman applies for the same position, it’s unfair to hire the black woman solely for the color of her skin – just as it would be unfair to hire the white woman if the black woman were a more suitable candidate.

Many disadvantages in life have to do with class more so than race. Perhaps the white woman was poverty stricken and struggled through hard work, but the black woman didn’t care about school, and was “helped” her way through life.

Affirmative Action makes minorities ill-equipped for their actual position and lowers standards. If a minority student can get into Yale with a 3.2 GPA, why should she push herself to get a 4.0? The University of Michigan had a policy that gave minority students more than twice as many points as earning a perfect SAT score in its application system, which was recently argued in the Supreme Court (www.balancedpolitics.org/affirmative_action.htm). Instead of admitting less qualified minority students into prestigious schools they don’t have the scores/skills for, they would further succeed in schools of similar skill/academic levels. If no preferential treatment was given based on skin color, truly successful minority students could feel great pride knowing they deserved their success and it wasn’t handed to them.

California passed Proposition 209 in 1996 that “prohibits any use of racial preferences in government hiring and public school admissions.” More than a dozen states are considering similar actions and questioning the legality of admitting people to academic institutions based on race.

All people deserve a chance to succeed in life, regardless of skin color. The key is getting all people interested in education, starting programs to help students stay in school, and passing laws to stop discrimination – only then will we have a more level playing field. Organizations shouldn’t have to seek out minorities; minorities should feel free to apply based on their true abilities. Discrimination based on skin color is not the answer to discrimination. We need to find other ways to fix the problem.

Allison Pritchard is a junior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]