Discussion: Should Affirmative Action Be Legal?


It’s frustrating being a person of color on a college campus because people often assume you’re only there because you’re black/etc. You slipped through the cracks and obviously you only got in to fulfill a quota that will make the university look absolutely wonderful in the college rankings. No matter how many brilliant things you say in your Political Economy seminar, some people will assume you’re just an affirmative action case.

Or maybe you are a person of color and you and a white BFF applied to the same school and you got in but they didn’t. It gets awkward, because now they will joke that obviously you got in because you’re black, you spot stealer! But where do these anxieties about “spots” being stolen come from?

In 1874, Edward Bouchet became the first African American to graduate from Yale and the first African American to get a Ph.D. That and he was one of only 20 people in America to hold a Ph.D. in physics, period. Try to top that. In 1954 segregated schools were slammed as inherently unequal, a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. By 1961 President John F. Kennedy signed an executive order stipulating government agencies to take “affirmative action” to hire people without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin. These laws were meant in part to undo generations of discrimination and bias but also to afford equal opportunity to people who have been disadvantaged. But are they still needed?

Today, however, Affirmative Action has failed in nearly every state where it has come come up for ballot: California, Nebraska, Washington and Arizona all have constitutional bans on race or gender-based preferences in hiring and in schools. Students who were rejected from elite universities like the University of Michigan, Princeton, and the University of Texas at Austin have sued for racial discrimination, which to me is just kind of like, you didn’t get in, GET OVER IT. Fisher v. University of Texas is before the Supreme Court right now, a case that could ban or uphold affirmative action nationwide.

What do you think? Should there be preferences in hiring and college admissions? Even when there is diversity on campus or at the workplace, do we interact with it? What difference does diversity make?

image – Shutterstock

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