Affirmative action fails to achieve intended purpose

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From the Sept. 27 print edition

Audrey James-Anenih staff writer

As seniors immerse themselves in college application season, this is a closer look into racial breakdowns of the universities that are the most attractive to the class of 2013, and what they mean for this year’s applicants.

Admissions officers in the UCs and CSUs only identify their thousands of applicants by their ID number, standardized test scores (SAT, ACT) and GPA. These universities do not ask for gender, race, extracurricular activities or letters of recommendation. This is an effort to eradicate affirmative action and base admissions solely on academics. (Affirmative action is the encouragement of increased representation of women and minority groups, most often identified with college admissions and job applications.)

This country’s private universities’ application process accounts for not only gender and race, but also for GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation and alumni affiliations. Many from Beverly’s class of 2013 attended Chapman University, University of Southern California, Boston University and Pepperdine University. Admissions officers at these colleges evaluate all aspects of the prospective students’ applications, allowing racial backgrounds to play a part.

Though the subject matter is controversial, affirmative action is no longer able to fairly reflect the minorities in the state of California, due to the depth of interracial divides. Affirmative action no longer allows the ethnic groups who need it most to utilize its benefits during the college admissions process.

The question at hand is whether or not affirmative action addresses these interracial divides. Although African Americans are supposed to receive the benefits of affirmative action, many studies show that a majority of the African Americans represented in America’s most elite colleges and universities are often immigrants or the children of immigrants hailing from the Caribbean Islands or Africa. The U.S. Census indicates that the African immigrants are the most highly educated group in the country, and achieve higher levels of income and education than black Americans, the descendants of slaves who have resided in the country for generations and endured segregation.

In recent years, Harvard University has had an increase in the number of black immigrants enrolled. An estimated two thirds of all students come from the Caribbean or Africa. Inside Higher Ed Magazine cited a study published in the Sociology of Education which found that selective colleges enroll 2.4 percent of American-born black high school graduates, but 9.2 percent of immigrant blacks. Another study cited by Inside Higher Ed published in the American Journal of Education, found that 27 per- cent of black students at selective colleges are first- or second-generation immigrants. However, this group makes up only 13 percent of all black people between the ages of 18 and 19 in the United States, leaving little doubt that immigrant blacks are overrepresented in elite academic institutions.

Asian Americans do not receive any advantage in the realm college of admissions, because they are already highly represented on college campuses nationwide. However, there are distinct class divides among this ethnic group that are not represented. For example, those with Southeast Asian origins tend to be lower income and less educated than their Southern and Eastern Asian counterparts. Thus, a Vietnamese-American college applicant and a Japanese-American college applicant shouldn’t be subject to the same affirmative action policy.

“The current state of the law suggests that an affirmative action program will survive strict scrutiny if it is tied to the original purpose of such programs: remedying proven, not speculative, past or present discrimination. Conversely, racial diversity, while a laudable goal, will have to be achieved by means other [sic] affirmative action,” according to the American Bar Association.

In order for affirmative action to be applied effectively, as stated by the ABA, the current state of law needs to be overhauled by college admissions officers and should be tied to the purpose of improving the circumstances of disadvantaged ethnicities.

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