Affirmative Action challenges the 14th amendment

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Affirmative Action challenges the 14th amendment

Photos Courtesy of Google Images

Photos Courtesy of Google Images

Photos Courtesy of Google Images

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In 1961 President John F. Kennedy used the term “affirmative action” to describe hiring and employment practices free of racial biases. Within the last 50 years, affirmative action has been challenged in numerous court cases. The term has grown to mean not only accepting minority groups, but also favoring them for jobs or college admissions.  Abigail Davis, a student recently denied from the University of Texas has taken her case to the Supreme Court to sue the university for denying her entry due to affirmative action.  The court must overturn affirmative action as its once simple definition of racial equality has transformed into reverse racism.

When applying for a job or admission to a university, individuals should be judged based on merit and achievement. However, affirmative action creates a system in which less qualified candidates are given an advantage if they are a certain race or ethnicity.  In the case of Fisher v The University of Texas, Abigail Fisher argues that affirmative action contradicts the equal protection under the law clause of the 14th amendment.  Although many schools value diversity in their student body, it is a violation of the constitution to give priority to certain groups based on race.

“I think every citizen is entitled to equal protection under the 14th amendment, and affirmative action does not necessarily guarantee this right,” said History Department Chair Lance Novak.

Many people incorrectly group affirmative action and socioeconomic issues together as part of a single effort to create equality in the admissions process. While it is true that a student who can afford a tutor or who does not have to work at a job and attend school at the same time is put at an advantage, this is not necessarily a race-related issue. Many times minority groups are automatically considered financially insecure, while in reality the vast majority of minority individuals are in the same social class as nonminority groups. If affirmative action is abolished, colleges can still evaluate the socioeconomic aspects of applicants without considering race as a factor.

One of the main objectives of a university or workplace is to create a friendly and productive environment. Affirmative action is seen as a way to help promote this; however, racial and ethnic diversity does not automatically create a variety of opinions and beliefs. When a university or employer accepts a minority applicant solely based on ethnicity, they could be accepting someone who is not only less qualified, but who also has nothing new to offer the community. Colleges attempt to accept bright students who will engage in discussions and challenge each other; accepting a minority does not necessarily mean they are choosing someone with these qualities.

“I do not believe colleges or employers should discriminate against minorities, but at the same time I feel that acceptance should be based on a merit system,” said senior Gabrielle Mosbe.

Affirmative action forces universities and employers to take race into varying and often unjust levels of consideration.  The application process should utilize a fair and holistic approach while judging applicants.  If the admission officer or employer feels that a candidate’s background or family life will help them as a student or with a job, they should consider him or her for the position.  However, they should not be expected to accept a less qualified candidate just because he or she belongs to a minority group.

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