Affirmative action should be based on socioeconomic status

December 11, 2018 — by Kevin Sze and Oliver Ye

Race-based and legacy preferences for college admissions must be replaced by socioeconomic affirmative action to support the ideals of the American Dream.

America is commonly regarded as a paragon for merit-based success, but upon closer examination, America’s college admissions system as a whole has disappointed America’s economically disadvantaged youth.

A recent lawsuit challenging Harvard’s admission process is accusing Harvard of discriminating against Asian-American applicants.

The case is at U.S. District Court Judge Allison Burroughs, with both sides planning to appeal her decision, which could mean that the fate of affirmative action policies could end up in the hands of the Supreme Court. Perhaps it’s time for this practice to see its legal end once and for all.

Racial affirmative action, a policy that favors those who have been historically discriminated against, fails to achieve fairness because every ethnic group has a percentage of wealthy and well-off who haven’t been discriminated against and, in fact, may enjoy significant advantages.

Race-based affirmative action simply makes the original problem worse. According to Business Insider, Lawrence Lowell, Harvard’s president from 1900-1935, attempted to limit the number of Jewish students who entered the university, setting a cap at 15 percent of the student body. Lowell’s blatant racial discrimination against Jews was rejected by the Committee of Admissions  in 1922.

A century later, elite colleges still practice racial discrimination, just more subtly. According to NBC News, a 2009 Princeton study found that Asian-Americans need an SAT score of 140 points higher than that of whites, 270 points higher than that of Hispanics and 450 points higher than that of blacks to get into a top private college.

College admissions are muddled with subjectivity, and socioeconomic affirmative action would help solve many of these issues.

Class-based affirmative action would barely lower the academic quality of the school, as admissions would only allow the affirmative action for qualified students.

By continuing to largely base admissions on race alone, colleges are undermining the values of America.

By enforcing the idea that a certain percentage of the school must be of a certain ethnic group, affirmative action does not ensure a campus diverse with opinions and life experiences.

By requiring colleges to allow a certain percentage of each ethnic group into their college, affirmative action assumes that all ethnic groups are in similar socioeconomic groups. This is absolutely not true. There are wealthy African Americans and Hispanics just as surely as there are poor white and Asian families.

The main duty of colleges is to  to provide a chance for success for every student, no matter their race or income.

Ultimately, affirmative action no longer accomplishes what it originally set out to do. While it does increase surface-level diversity, it worsens class differences and ultimately strengthens racial stereotypes and reinforces simmering resentments.

The initial goal of affirmative action was to help the races that were historically disadvantaged in society. At this point, however, what is needed is a system that helps those who are disadvantaged today, those who lack the opportunities now, not 50 years ago.

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