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April 14, 2016

WELCOME TO THE ZOO | Affirmative Action in College Admissions

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With an open mind and two sides of the story, you’re bound to learn something new.

Welcome to the ZooWelcome to the zoo! This is a blog where both the Republican and Democrat viewpoints are represented. The blog is not meant to sway you either way necessarily, just present both sides of the story. You may not agree with the whole article, but hey, you’re likely to agree with half! The topic this week: affirmative action in the college admissions process.

Stance 1

Affirmative action perpetuates the use of race as a factor in the college admissions process. Progress was made when when the Supreme Court ruled that colleges could not use “strict” quotas after the University of California case in which Allan Bakke was rejected twice, despite having significantly higher scores than the minorities who were accepted. However, just five years later, the Supreme Court backtracked and ruled that using  “modest” quotas for college admissions is acceptable.

Reverse discrimination remains a problem in the college admissions process, especially for Asian American and white students. One study showed that Asian American students faced the lowest acceptance rates and white students the second lowest for each test score bracket. It is unfair to admit students who are less qualified solely because they are a minority. This is unequal treatment — the very concept that affirmative action was supposed to resolve. College admission programs should be blind to the race factor so that ACT and SAT scores, grade point average, application essays, and extracurricular activities can be weighed more heavily.

Racial-based preferences give off the impression that minority students are only accepted because they are held to lower standards. It is wrong to promote the idea that minority students are not able to be independently successful, without special treatment. College admission programs should be sending the message that accepted minority students are just as qualified to be at the institution as everybody else.

We are at a point in time where, as a country, we should not be convincing any group of people that they need special treatment to advance in life. Individuals should not be favored based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, or any other innate quality. If we are to achieve true equality, we must eliminate affirmative action in the college admissions process.

Conservatively yours,


Stance 2

Affirmative action in the college process is crucial to the success of disenfranchised high schoolers. John F. Kennedy implemented affirmative action in 1961 to increase the opportunities of minorities – predominantly blacks– in the United States. Nowadays, affirmative action should not consider only race, but also other factors including class, ethnicity and gender. Many argue that affirmative action is no longer necessary; however, our country is still inherently racist and biased. Minority students deserve a fair chance at receiving the quality education that educated, fortunate students receive based on their status in the United States.

It is well known that blacks have been disenfranchised in the United States since slavery. After which Jim Crow laws only further provoked racist behavior in America. Affirmative action gives blacks, as well as other minorities, the opportunity to excel in a society in which they are often left behind. Typically, lower class minorities do not have the opportunity to attend high-quality secondary education institutions, thus giving them much less of a chance to receive a solid enough education to be admitted into colleges based solely on their scores and grades. Viewing a student with the potential he or she could have achieved if given the opportunity to learn in a more rigorous setting could facilitate the success of those students. Students who need affirmative action often do not have access to subject or SAT tutors and they do not receive the same help a wealthy child receives when growing up. Furthermore, they are not taught from a very young age that they have the potential to attend a good college and work in their dream jobs. This immediately hinders their chances of thriving at school and ultimately in life.

Lastly, affirmative action increases diversity at colleges. A key portion of education is learning about diverse cultures and peoples. It is impossible for any student to learn about different backgrounds if he or she rarely encounters them on campus. Affirmative action creates the atmosphere we appreciate so much in college. Without it, Cornell would lack character and become very homogenized. Race problems in the United States are still extremely prevalent, and affirmative action continues to be a step in the right direction.

Liberally yours,


Katie Barlow is a sophomore biology major in the College of Arts and Sciences. When not debating politics, she can be found running half marathons and eating nutella by the spoonful. If you’re up for a chat, Katie can be reached at kmb324@cornell.edu.

Rebecca Saber is a sophomore government major in the College of Arts and Sciences. She aspires to be Secretary of State, but is willing to settle for Supreme Court Justice. When she is not writing about politics, Rebecca can be found watching TV in her bed or at some musical theater rehearsal. If you want to chat, Rebecca can be reached at rms432@cornell.edu.

Welcome to the Zoo appears on alternate Wednesdays this semester.

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  • Anonymous

    It’s not only the admissions process. Non Asian minority students are often provided free summer programs to prepare them for their freshmen year that “non-invitees” cannot even pay to attend. These often are positioned as teaching study skills, but what really happens is they are provided a head start on numerous fist year core classes such as chemistry, calculus and freshman writing seminar. I have noticed that a lot of the minority students are doing well in really hard classes such as Chem 2070, while white and Asian students who were high school valedictorians are struggling to pull Cs. It lead me to suspect that perhaps the tests given these summer sessions are actually very similar to the prelims in the fall semester. My suspicions were confirmed when I overhear a group of minority students give high fives and said “we had this in the summer!” There has been a lot of criticism that non qualified students have been admitted because of affirmative action, -‘d perhaps given them this unfair edge is Cornell’s way to support their actions by gaming the system. Next time they should just make it even easier by giving out the same fall prelims and answer keys as practice exams during the summer. Shameful liberal policies. Choosing sides. Hyprocrites.

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