Is race-based Affirmative Action still necessary in the highly selective college admissions process? As loyal readers of our college admissions blog can guess, our answer is a resounding yes. While the years-long practice of offering preferential treatment to underrepresented minorities has indeed moved the needle towards a fairer and more just America, that needle hasn’t moved far enough. Without Affirmative Action — which could well soon be outlawed by our nation’s highest court — there is great risk that America’s elite college campuses will become significantly less diverse. In turn, less diverse elite college campuses will invariably lead to fewer diverse graduates of these universities and decreased diverse representation in industries from finance to medicine and every field in between. So, today, we figured we’d shine a spotlight on arguments cited by a scholar at Tufts University, Natasha Warikoo, in a Washington Post piece that focuses on why Affirmative Action is still very much necessary.
As Professor Warikoo so eloquently writes in a piece entitled “Why race-based affirmative action is still needed in college admissions,” “1. Simply put, American society continues to suffer from racial inequality, so affirmative action provides more equitable opportunities for a top-notch college education.Racial inequality in the United States stems partly from the ongoing knock-on effects of past exclusion and discrimination. But history is not the only driver of racial inequality. Decades of research have shown that unequal opportunities continue to shape the educational experiences of Black, Latino and Native American youths, even within the same schools, and even with well-meaning teachers…2. Affirmative action benefits all students by exposing them to diverse perspectives on campus. Residential segregation in the United States means that many kids will grow up with little interaction with kids of other races. This is particularly true for White kids…We now know the considerable benefits to all students of having a quorum of classmates of all races. It makes students more likely to socialize with peers of other races, which in turn seems to improve their intellectual engagement and performance. It even bolsters their leadership skills.”
She continues, “3. Affirmative action leads to more-diverse leadership, which is essential for sound decision-making and legitimacy…If selective colleges are to adhere to the mission of contributing to the public good that so many of them espouse, they must provide opportunities to talented and eager teens from a range of backgrounds. Affirmative action is one small mechanism to increase the likelihood that Black, Latino and Native American youths have a realistic shot at the privileges that education at the likes of Harvard, the University of North Carolina and other selective colleges can provide.”
We echo the sentiments of Professor Warikoo. Affirmative Action is very much still necessary to create the America we wish to see, to create a better, more inclusive tomorrow for our nation’s meritocracy. And while we’re worried the Supreme Court will soon outlaw the consideration of race in admissions decision-making, it won’t stop us from presenting the case for the consideration of race in elite college admissions — no matter how many disparaging comments we receive in the comments section below (since our posts on Affirmative Action always elicit the most heated debates — with honorable mention to our support of a transgender UPenn swimmer). So post away, but do please keep it civil.
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