We spend four years pouring our hearts and souls into preparing for college. As students at a college preparatory institution, this is undeniably a huge part of our lives. We spend a lot of time building our resumes, perfecting our grades and deciding what we want to do once we leave high school. This college-centric culture also makes senior year a whirlwind of meeting deadlines and submitting applications. Once all our college applications are sent, we are left biting our nails and crossing our fingers that we will be accepted into the university of our choice.
One part of the college application process that is not commonly discussed at St. Teresa’s is affirmative action. Although not all colleges utilize affirmative action policies, the top three most popular universities for the STA class of 2018 do. At a school whose student body consists of approximately 16 percent racial minorities, the meaning of affirmative action is cause for confusion among many students.
Affirmative action policies are used by some schools to guide their admission decisions. These policies take into account historical discrimination against racial minorities in higher education and allow for race to be a factor in admissions.
In recent years, lawsuits have been filed against both Harvard University and University of Texas. In the lawsuit brought against Harvard, a group of Asian-Americans who were rejected by Harvard accused the school of capping the number of Asian-Americans admitted each year. In Fisher vs. University of Texas, a white student claimed that she was denied from the University of Texas at Austin based on her race.
Supporters of affirmative action maintain that it is exemplary of the American value of the importance of diversity. Critics claim that it opens up individuals applying to college to possibly be subject to discrimination.
A report published on ERIC, an “online library of education research and information” that is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences, found that both college students and the faculty members that teach them thought of diversity as a strength in the classroom.
Using affirmative action policies helps colleges and universities ensure diversity in their student body and in turn the classroom. Having diversity on campus prepares students for the workforce and for their lives as members of the public. Having diverse perspectives in the classroom provides students alternate points of view and causes them to examine their own biases.
As long as race is an influencing factor in social and business interactions, racial diversity will be an important consideration in determining the quality of education at any particular institution. Since the effects of America’s racist past have not yet ceased to impact our present, affirmative action policies should be used in college admission decisions.