October 12, 2012

The Supreme Court Tackles Affirmative Action

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Affirmative action in the increasingly competitive college admissions process is a highly controversial subject, and these days you can find people bemoaning it everywhere from College Confidential to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court is currently tackling the issue in the case of Abigail Fisher V. University of Texas.

The case concerns the plight of 22 year old Abigail Fisher, an embittered UT Austin reject who wound up attending Louisiana State. Fisher, a white female, alleges that she was the victim of racial discrimination and is seeking financial damages for lost opportunities and the emotional pain inflicted by not being able to attend her “dream school.” And although I personally am opposed to race-based affirmative action in college admissions, this case is so utterly ludicrous and downright irritating that I find myself in staunch opposition to the contentions of Ms. Fisher.

A pivotal fact which the media is largely overlooking is that the University of Texas guarantees admission to anyone in the top 10% of their high school class, and a whopping 81% of the UT Austin incoming class is filled in this purely objective manner. The remaining slots are arbitrarily filled by admissions officers with candidates whom they feel would contribute to the university.

Ms. Fisher apparently couldn’t be bothered to meet the relatively easy standard for automatic admission, so why is she self-righteously crusading against affirmative action? It not only reeks of self-entitlement but fits the pervasive right-wing notion that African-Americans and Latinos have somehow made off with the best opportunities while Caucasians are stuck with the short end of the stick, a notion that has for generations been the coping method of racist white Americans unable to accept their personal failures.

Financial damages because she was unable to attend her dream school, sort of like almost everybody else in the world? Are you kidding me? Ms. Fisher’s sense of entitlement, and irresponsible use of the term “racism” has contributed to the seemingly perpetual racial tensions which haunt America. Race is purely a social construct– to ask the country to ignore this is to ask us to ignore our entire history, to ignore slavery, to ignore Jim Crow laws, to ignore the contemporary disproportionate rate of African-American poverty, incarceration, and voter suppression. Her frivolous and wholly baseless lawsuit could potentially undermine diversity initiatives all around the country.

The second staggering point is, of course, that being white is statistically neutral in the college admissions process. The percentage of Asian-Americans is 40% at Berkeley and UCLA, which are prohibited from affirmative action, and yet a puny 15-18% at elite private schools– and for obvious reasons. 80% of Latino and African-American spots in incoming freshman classes at top schools would have gone to Asian-Americans under race-blind admissions practices.

As an Asian-American, ex-2340 Valedictorian who ended up attending Cornell after being rejected from other Ivies such as Princeton and Harvard, I find race-based affirmative action in its current form to be xenophobic, racist, and a facade of progressivism while true racial-conflict issues continue to be ignored by society. I do feel that we need to take gradual measures to transition to a socioeconomic system. But for the Supreme Court to rule in favor of Ms. Fisher’s whiny, self-pitying accusation would not only greatly mitigate underrepresented minority presence and diversity in higher education but also perpetuate the myth of whites being harmed through affirmative action policies.

So make your case that you want affirmative action to be altered– I’ll even help you do so. But don’t give me this “I’m a victim and deserve financial compensation” mentality. Come on. It’s insulting.

Original Author: Michael Sun