Editorial: We shouldn’t argue over affirmative action yet

Last week, U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs ruled against the so-called students for fair admissions in her trial alleging that the UNC discriminates against white and Asian applicants. This is one of three pending lawsuits filed by the organization attacking affirmative action policies, including one against Harvard University which is currently under review by the Supreme Court.

Biggs notes in his opinion that the policies of the UNC, while permissible, have not been adequate to achieve their supposed goals, writing that “the University is far from creating the diverse environment described in its mission statement”.

The false-progressive new core of the SFFA’s message is that the group is working to end racial discrimination against Asian American applicants.

This story is full of holes. Many Asian Americans benefit directly from affirmative action, especially those who have come to the United States as refugees.

Additionally, a 2020 study by AAPI Data found that a clear majority of Asian Americans support affirmative action policies. And if the SFFA wanted to create more places for white and Asian students, it would fight to expand class sizes instead of quibbling over a few of the places currently available.

But despite these holes, the admissions debate remains intensely personal and it is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of “fairness”. Anyone who has ever been rejected from college has an interest in the game.

When a process requires such hard work and such vulnerability on the part of the students, the mere possibility of being held to a higher level based on race can quickly turn into righteous fury.

When Operation Varsity Blues, the FBI’s investigation into a conspiracy of college corruption schemes, erupted in 2019, we saw how quickly righteous fury can spread when the busy college admissions process. is hacked. Thousands of headlines, a Lifetime movie and a Netflix documentary later, Americans have seen wealthy parents arrested and prosecuted for playing with the system.

But we have to be careful not to let our anger be misdirected. Yes, it’s frustrating every time someone gets an edge in college admissions – right or wrong. However, the real problem is that we have to play this ridiculous game in the first place.

We must remember that affirmative action is the bare minimum. It doesn’t even begin to explain why we have to fight for access to elite institutions or how to actually support students of color after they enroll. When we constantly rehash the tired debate about affirmative action, we lose sight of how we need to get past it.

Biggs, a double HBCU graduate herself, notes in her opinion that, “Almost seventy years after the first black students were admitted to UNC, minority students at the university still report facing epithets. racial, as well as a sense of isolation, ostracism. , stereotypical and seen as tokens in a number of university spaces.

In June, UNC student body president Lamar Richards wrote in an open letter published in NC Policy Watch that prospective students from marginalized communities should consider “other options.” After decades of student advocacy and fundraising, UNC has finally opened a Latinx Center and an Asian American Center in the past two years.

So yes, let’s fight vehemently to preserve the UNC’s ability to consider race in admissions. But let’s not forget to ask ourselves why UNC is an institution that some students of color don’t want to come to. Let’s not forget to ask ourselves why we are asked to bet the weight of our dreams on college admissions in the first place.

Other university systems are possible. For example, Canada’s university system works without the ridiculously complicated admissions system we have, and most students are accepted simply on the basis of their high school transcript. As a result, the university you attend does not have a dramatic impact on their career, but Canadian universities still manage to gain international respect.

As long as race has an impact on our lives, universities will need to factor that into admissions in one form or another. These attacks on race-conscious admission policies are clearly in bad faith. But we cannot be fooled into thinking that affirmative action was never meant to be a solution rather than a temporary band-aid.


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