College Admissions are Racist

Why Affirmative Action Amounts to Discrimination against Asians and Whites

Trevor Klein

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Affirmative action in the college admissions process is racist. It discriminates against students solely because of their background, and regardless of the merit of their applications. In the heat of college application season, college admissions practices directly affect the seniors and will affect every Sage Hill student when their time comes. 

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy laid the foundation for affirmative action through executive order 10925. He issued this mandate to fight against discrimination in the workplace. According to the University of California, Irvine, he said that “affirmative action” was necessary to ensure that minorities were not discriminated against.

Thus, the concept of affirmative action was started to fight discrimination rather than to aid it. But modern affirmative action goes totally against Kennedy’s spirit and is racist because it uses race as the basis to treat groups differently. 

Affirmative action favors certain groups like African Americans and Latinos and subordinates Caucasians and Asians because of generalized notions of privilege.

Now, you may be questioning the fact that colleges actually discriminate based on race, but the numbers say otherwise. According to a Princeton University study, at highly competitive private institutions, Asian students with a 1550 on the SAT (out of 1600) have the same chance of admissions as white students with a 1410, Hispanic students with a 1230, and African American students with an 1100. 

A group of Asian-American applicants rejected by Harvard are currently suing the university. They claim that the Harvard personal rating scale, which helps admissions officers rank students ability outside the classroom, discriminates against Asians. 

According to the New York Times, Harvard conducted an internal study in 2014 and found that the university did discriminate against Asians, but they never published the findings or took any measures to change their process. 

Supporters of affirmative action argue that it helps level the playing field since African American and Hispanics often have less opportunities than other students. However, the problem with that type of thinking is that Asian and white students who excel must not be penalized for using the opportunities given to them. Admissions offices should be focused on accepting the individuals most prepared to excel at their institution. 

The other problem with that thinking is that the color of one’s skin is not the only barrier to opportunity in America anymore. A Stanford University study found that socioeconomic status is the primary cause of the achievement gaps between races. Since African Americans and Latinos often come from less affluent backgrounds, they are more likely subjected to these factors.

Now, I do believe that students who may have lower GPAs and test scores because of the situation they were born into should share these experiences in their college application. 

For example, if a student from a low-income family works a part-time job to support their family, then they have less time to study and can only afford to take the SAT once. This will result in the quantitative portion of their application to not be fully representative of their true merit. Thus, students of all ethnicities should share the story of their struggles that may have impacted their performance on their college applications, and admissions offices should take that into consideration. 

However, offices must carefully weigh how much the students’ other commitments have impacted their test scores and GPA in each case because each case is different and some students from low-income families may have many opportunities. 

Labeling certain races as underprivileged and holding them to lower standards across the board is just wrong. Admission should rather be based on the merit of each student’s application rather than the color of their skin. 

Affirmative action has strayed far from what JFK intended it to be as it encourages discrimination and unequal treatment in modern America. 

Affirmative action was challenged in 2016 in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin as the case decided whether race-conscious admissions should be allowed at the university. During a hearing regarding the case, the late Justice Antonin Scalia made the point that the group of students labeled “underprivileged minority” students who are admitted to schools that they would not be admitted to if they were white or Asian, are actually disadvantaged because they are less likely to succeed in an environment that there merit could not carry their application. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; there are many minority students who deserve to be at top universities based on merit. However, as shown in the earlier statistics, some racial groups are explicitly favored. 

Scalia’s point is that when a student gains admission to a university on the basis of affirmative action rather than merit, nobody wins because the deserving student is rejected and the less-qualified, admitted student may be overwhelmed in the highly academic environment. 

Democrats called Scalia racist for these remarks, but they are not racist at all. He is actually fighting against the racism of affirmative action. 

A few years ago, students across the country protested affirmative action through “affirmative action bake sales.” At these protests, students sold baked goods at different prices based on race, charging Asians the most and African Americans and Hispanics the least. The point is to show how outrageous affirmative action truly is because it is clearly racist to price discriminate in this manner. 

Many colleges already read applications need-blind, and they should also read them race-blind. That would eliminate affirmative actions and generalizations about different ethnic groups. 

Only the merit of applicants, including the experiences and challenges faced by them, would be considered. That would remove racism and allow colleges to evaluate students on a case-by-case basis.