Affirmative Action in Higher Education


AffirmativeAction in Higher Education

AffirmativeAction in Higher Education

Anaffirmative action in higher education is a policy that is adopted byinstitutions of education as way of improving making variousopportunities equally available to the groups that are historicallyexcluded in the country. According to Fullinwider(2013),term affirmative action was popularized introduced by PresidentKennedy at a time when civil rights movement in America was at itspeak, and was later expanded by President Johnson. President Kennedybelieved that there was a high need to make sure that all groupswithin a given society are given the same opportunity and allowed tosucceed just like anyone else in education (Connors2009).Affirmative action tends to give special considerations to racialminorities together with the natives America and women who have for along time been discriminated in the history of America.

Accordingto Rabe(2001), the efficiency of the affirmative action isargued and scrutinized with different people taking varied arguments.Rabe(2001) takes a neutral point in the debate of t whether affirmativeaction is beneficial or not, noting that both sides have validconsiderations. However, Connors (2009) is of a different view. Theoriginal intention of implementing affirmative action was to benon-discriminatory in nature and had the purpose to set out theintegration of racial acceptance both in the workplaces and also ineducation institutions (Connors,2009).Those individuals who believe in the idea of affirmative actionbelieves that it bears many benefits than the negativities associatedwith it, while those against the affirmative action insist that theharm caused by racial discrimination has dissipated and has long gonethus the affirmative action are no longer required in today’ssocieties.

Accordingto Fullinwider (2013),opponents of affirmative view it as only positive and beneficial forthe minorities. Today, there are many people that believe thataffirmative action has only been successful in substituting one formof discrimination with another one. Ibarra (2001) concurs with theargument. Many people also believes that the initiative is nothelping in any way those individuals who are hurt by the past butwill only help those who do not deserve them (Ibarra,2001).Indeed, this is very contradictory in nature as they argue that theharm that was intended to be corrected never occurred and that ifthere was any harm done, by now it’s long gone. Affirmative actionhas been used by many people now where they use the action to getinto position in careers as well as places in schools (Brown&amp Langer).According to Ibarra(2001),critiques view this as a misuse of the original good intention.

Thecontroversy surrounding affirmative action is mainly due to publicbelief and misconceptions. According to Fullinwider(2013),there has been no lack of specific guidelines for the execution ofthe plan and policy, a situation that has contributed to itsideological clashes regarding its practicality and application. Thepolitics behind the reason as to why many people are against the planis that it has the effect of dividing the society into groups basedon race, ethnicity and also gender by ensuring that the society iscomposed of particular groups whose membership is determined alongthose lines (Ocampo,2015).Just by the fact that we accept affirmative action in the societymeans that we are calling upon many individuals to be race-conscious.These factors also do not necessitate the removal of the program justby the fact that it make individuals to be aware of the racialconflicts that exist in the society.

Implementingaffirmative action in the universities is important for theminorities to get a change. However, there is also the case where itis argued that affirmative action is in a way demeaning to theminorities groups as it sends a message to them that are not goodenough to be considered by what they are capable of. They are simplyfavored when in reality they do not deserve the chances they aregiven (Ibarra2001).This might be true but at the same time might not be true. Thesituation was even made tenser when recently America had its firstever black President.

Thissituation was used by both individuals who support affirmative actionas well as the plan’s critics in supporting their arguments. Thosewho supported the plan believed that indeed when the minority groupsare given the same chances as the other people they indeed canperform and rise to highest possible limits.

Theyare as capable as anyone else in the society. The only challenge theyalways encounter is to get the right opportunities but when they getthose chances, then they take full advantage of the situation (NewYork Times 2015).Critics of the plan, argues that these people are capable on theirown and thus should not be given any special offers and that theyshould hustle just like anyone else. The situation of President Obamaindeed seemed to support their arguments.

Thedebate has also attracted a lot of political opinions, a situationthat has seen numerous cases being filled on Supreme Court to do awaywith the affirmative action. The Supreme Court even ruled that theplan to be gotten rid of. But soon after, the event was followed witha series of appeals being filled at the Supreme Court. There was evena case where a white student was denied admission to a publicuniversity all because she was white. These led to a series ofactivities that ended up being solved in a court of law.

Accordingto Kahlenberg (2012), it is the high time that people startrecognizing that affirmative action could entirely be abolished froma public institution in America. He thus suggests that this shouldnot be the case as we could have another form of affirmative actionthat is not based on racial consideration (Kahlenberg, 2012). Thearguments came on the verge of Fisher vs. The University of Texas.The case cited, Fisher was denied admission because of her race(Barnes2015).The case was soon to be determined, and Fisher has since graduatedfrom the university.

However,Fullinwider(2013) takes the economic view of the ruling. Fullinwider (2013)arguesthat if the court rules on the abolishment of the affirmative plan,then hat should be something good as now affirmative action should bebased of economic status. This to him, mean that there would be a lotof diversification in our universities. At the end of the day,majority of the people do not want the blacks and Latinos studentsbeing shut out of universities (Kahlenberg2015).They make these arguments in pursuit of equality. He points thatthere is no way that we should be running our universities based onracial groups and expect the plan to be successful.

Topass racial discrimination then we must take account of race itself.Fullinwider(2013) citesan example of Texas University where they changed the system andstarted admitting students based on socioeconomic disadvantages aswell as admitting of any student that is among the top 10% of allstudents graduating from Texas school. This went a long way insolving the problem that the university has been facing as far asadmission was concerned. This even saw an increased in number ofAfrica-America’s and Hispanic students’ joining the Universityrising as a result of the change in policy (Ocampo2015).

Thenew form of affirmative action is also not received well byuniversities as not only does it not benefit high-income earnersclasses of the minority students but it also has the effect ofadmitting a fair number of low-income earners not only from the whitecommunity but also the blacks and Latinos communities (Ibarra,2001).

However,if indeed we are committed to creating a truly meritocratic goodsystem of admission and one that focuses on academic success basingon all obstacles to be overcome, then an increased diversity programwill serve better in this situation as compared to grouping accordingto race. The new system also has the advantage of producing racialdiversification indirectly while at the same time recognize that themajor problems to opportunities today are in one way or another tiedwith economic disadvantages.

TaNehis Coates also in his case for reparations makes a strong casewhere he believes it’s time for America to confront the impact ofslavery. He argues this way because he believes the impact of slaverystill evident today and other discriminatory policies that are set inplace to continuously deny the Africa-Americans the opportunitiesthat other Americans are afforded (Coates,2014).He argues that discrimination was the main reason as why earlysettlers benefit the most at the expense of the native’sinhabitants.

Thesituation continued even after world war two where bills such GI Billwere put in place to deny black Americans from accessing education(Coates,2014).He points out that the most insulting thing about racism is howpeople lie about it, and pretends to not practice it. Many people arebuying the idea that they are reborn anew and that they are free fromthe past. To him this is not true, we are still tied to our pastactivities, and it is only up to the time that we own up to the pastand accept that racism is still a key factor in many decision that iswhen we can say to be free.

Coates(2014) points out that America history of deliberate policy decisionsis the reason behind the huge gap in wealth and achievement betweenthe black Americans and white Americans. Americans are too proud toadmit to the sins they did both in the past and present times. Theyseem to try and run away from the reality without realizing that theonly way that America can heal is for the Americans to offer anapology for slavery and racial discrimination so that they can paveway for the healing process.

Withthat all being said, the main question that many are asking isaffirmative action bigger than diversification? This comes on thebasis where many people were arguing that affirmative actions are nolonger needed in our society today. The first thing that allindividuals should try to remember is that affirmative action is waymore constitutional than many would have imagined (USAToday 2015).It plays a crucial role in reinforcing the constitution where itcalls on individuals to being created equal.

Ifthere was no affirmative action, the constitution would have fallenshort in one way or another. If affirmative action was indeed notneeded then there could have been no so much debate about it. Thesociety could not have been broken into two. These two are, one, thepeople supporting affirmative action and two, those against it. Manywho advocates for the abolishment of the affirmative action calls forthe adoption of affirmative action that will be based on economicconsideration. Affirmative action goes beyond this aspect it bringspower. It is very clear that when affirmative action was firstinitiated the white people in a way lost their control (Alexandra2012).

Therecent debates and quest to get rid of it is all about them trying toregain their power and control back. This was indeed even made worsewith America having the first black president ever. These indeedbruised many of the white people egos and self-esteem. Their selfesteem is may have been bruised because of the racist divide. Assuch, getting rid of the affirmative action is just another way ofthe white people trying to shake up the confidence of the minoritiesand women, a situation that is aimed at breaking them down to a pointwhere there would go back to where they really belong. This is just afraction of reasons as to why many are calling from the abolishmentof the affirmative plan and allowing the plan to be abolished will betaking our society thirty years back.

Eventhough we have learned to live with each other and peacefullycoexist, there is a strong case that if the affirmative action planwas not in places then the minority groups would not be receiving theopportunities that they are enjoying now. With that being said, theAfrican-Americans can indeed prove them worthy and qualified withouta law that benefit them but it will reach a point where it would notmatter how much one is qualified as everyone will be charged by theircolor of the skin.


Alexandra,Tilsley.(2012). CenturyFoundation report advocates class-based affirmative action InsideHigher from,&lt November 2015

Asbury,B., Kahlenberg, R., Alon, S., Pierce, J., &amp Skrentny, J. (2013).AffirmativeInaction.Contexts,12(4),14-23

Barnes,Mario L., Chemerinsky, Erwin., &amp Onwuachi-Willig, Angela. (2015).Judging Opportunity Lost: Assessing the Viability of Race-BasedAffirmative Action After Fisher v. University of Texas. UCLALaw Review,62(2),273-305.

Brown,Graham. K., &amp Langer, Arnim. (2015). Does Affirmative ActionWork?. ForeignAffairs,94(2),49-56.

Coates,T. 2014. TheCase for Reparations.TheAtlantic.Retrieved from,&lt November 2015,

Fullinwider,R. (2013). AffirmativeAction.Retrieved From,&lt April14, 2014

Ibarra,R. 2001. Beyondaffirmative action.Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press.

Kahlenberg,R., &amp Potter, H. (2012). Abetter affirmative action.New York, NY: Century Foundation.

NewYork Times (2015). Class-basedAffirmative Action Works –, from&lt November 2015,

Kahlenberg,R. (2015). UniversitiesShould Respond to the Supreme Court by Giving a Bigger AdmissionsBoost to Low-Income Students.SlateMagazine.Retrieved from,&lt November 2015,

Ocampo,R. 2015. WhyDiversity Matters in College from,&lt November 2015

Rabe,J. (2001). Equality,AffirmativeAction and Justice.New York: Books on Demand Ltd

USAToday, 2015.Collegescan still use race for admissions — but carefully.Retrieved 11 November 2015, from