Clark says we still need affirmative action in colleges

by Sean Clark


In my junior AP Language and Composition class, we simply could not have a complete discussion on the racially-charged book, The Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison. My teacher ultimately said that she did not feel comfortable discussing race without African-American perspectives in the class. How can a classroom full of non-African-Americans really discuss what it’s like to be an African-American in the 21st century? The answer is, they can’t. In my higher education, I do not want a lack of diversity to continue to affect the length at which my classes can discuss political issues, literature, and life experiences.

We’re in the midst of college decisions and any students believe race should not be a factor in the college admissions process. Yes, in a perfect world it would be nice if we could just pretend that race doesn’t exist. However, race plays a key role in the lives of many people. We’re trained to associate differentiating between races with racism. Ignoring race, however, erases the unique hardships and perspectives of marginalized groups. Ultimately, a marginalized college applicant is more likely to bring unique perspectives to the student body.

In states that have banned affirmative action policies, minority student enrollment has shifted from highly selective universities to less selective universities, according to the Brookings Institute. But who cares? College is college, right? Wrong. That only applies to white people. According to a study conducted by Alan Kreuger, a Princeton University professor, and Stacy Dale, a researcher at Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., “graduating from selective universities does not increase the earnings likelihood for middle-class whites but does significantly increase the earnings likelihood for black and Hispanic students and those from less affluent backgrounds.”

Legacy also comes into play. When our parents were in college, there were significantly fewer college students of color. It’s no secret that prestigious schools such as Yale, Harvard, and Stanford accept extremely high numbers of applicants who have alumni family members. This severely disadvantages Hispanic and black college students whose families have historically not been given the same opportunities to build a legacy within a school.

In years past, African-American students at LGHS have had their college decisions disregarded by white students who say “he/she only got in because he/she is black.” While race does play a factor in college admissions, this comment invalidates all of the achievements that applicant has made over the past four years. Instead, white students need to admit that they benefit from white privilege and acknowledge that colleges want to build a diverse environment to benefit all students.

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