Affirmative action works backwards

Suzanne Blake, Editor-In-Chief

The page reads, “Please indicate how you identify yourself.”

The options include American Indian, Asian, Black/African American, Pacific Islander and White, and the form is your college application.

While the Common Application no longer requires this information, many other college website applications demand it.

Even if you don’t provide your race or ethnicity for the applications that don’t necessitate this, colleges may speculate you are either white or an over-represented minority.

A question more pertinent than how colleges utilize this information (or not) is why they use it in the first place.

Should race play a role in college admissions?

In 1961 when President John F. Kennedy issued an executive order calling for affirmative action in all federally-funded projects, this made sense.

Racial prejudice still blinded employers. Although Brown v. Board of Education ruled against it, segregation was still a daily and disturbing reality of not only many Southern schools and universities but also in the North, seen in de facto segregation.

Minorities were typically born into a cycle of poverty.

The everyday racism and lack of opportunity destroyed any possibility of advancing themselves.

Today, however, this is not the case. Racism still plagues our nation, but we have reached a point in which adopting race-blind admissions could actually improve race relations.

Discrimination based on circumstances outside of one’s control can never be positive. ”

— Suzanne Blake

Universities receive an influx of applications from students of all races now. Excellence in academics and extra-curricular activities transcends racial boundaries.

No students should have to wonder or be questioned if their admission decision was reached due to affirmative action and not the four years of hard work invested in their educations.

Affirmative action is defined as “an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination, especially in relation to employment or education; positive discrimination.”

Discrimination based on circumstances outside of one’s control can never be positive.

Colleges typically cite a quest for ‘diversity’ when they defend their affirmative action policies. However, there are many more important aspects of creating a diverse student body that learns and grows well together rather than just race. Religion, rural/urban hometowns, sexual orientation/identities, outside interests and so much more also have the potential to create a richly diverse group of students.

With this said, none of these factors should have an impact on one’s admission chances. Colleges should accept the best and brightest of their applicant pool.

The only exception I see would be in the case of a first generation college student and students whose parents have low incomes. This is the type of information that can signify more important factors where universities and colleges may need to step in to level the playing field, when one realizes the possible adversity the student faced rather than a race category that does not necessarily correlate with hardship.

As the society we live in hopefully becomes more accepting and unified, we should be unified in a commitment to annihilating racism in all of its forms.

If we seek an evolved society in which individuals “will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,” as Martin Luther King, Jr proposed in his legendary “I Have a Dream” speech, then an additional next step into this dream is to, aside from socioeconomic and geographic factors, take away all demographic sections in college applications that don’t pertain to an applicant’s grades, test scores, community involvement, essays and recommendations.