On June 23rd 2016, the judges of the supreme court gathered to analyze a challenge about the University of Texas of Austin’s race-conscious admissions program. This case, known as Fisher II v. The University of Texas, was brought about when senior Abigail Fisher applied to the University of Texas and did not get in. She was not accepted in the top ten percent program as well( a program in Texas Law stating that top ten percent students from all schools in Texas get automatic admission into UT Austin), and firmly believed that she had the academic status to get in.
She implied that the fact that she was white and had a good financial status reduced her chances of admission into the university and that she was heavily racially discriminated. Why does this case matter? According to Laurence Tribe, a law professor from Harvard, “No decision since Brown v. Board of Education* has been as important as Fisher will prove to be in the long history of racial inclusion and educational diversity. ” This court case has brought about a highly controversial topic known as affirmative action.
Affirmative action is an action or a policy that favors those who tend to suffer from discrimination(such as minorities) and meant to help them thrive in education and employment. It stems from the culture of our country, a policy to ‘make things equal’ and a ‘sorry’ about our highly discriminatory predecessors. This policy has been brought up in several court cases, Gratz v. Bollinger( Supreme Court ruled affirmative action constitutional), Grutter v. Bollinger( Supreme Court ruled affirmative action unconstitutional, and this was six months apart from Gratz), and currently, Fisher II v.
The University of Texas. This emergence of thought about this new policy, combined with the innovation of our generation, brings awareness to academic policies all across the country and causes people to take stances on the argument. Supreme Court cases like this is what arises the questionability of these types of ‘beneficial’ actions to our society, and brings awareness to the effects of this affirmative action policy on thought about education, employment rates, and the ‘demonstrated need’ of society.
Educational policies have been widely debated since the 1800’s, and the controversiality of the topic hasn’t changed. But a factor that has recently been brought up is the application of race into our educational admissions policy. The whole goal of this race-conscious program is to achieve a surplus amount of minorities on campus and as the University of Texas justifies, “ the interest is in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a student body diversity. ” It has reserved seats specially for minorities and gives minorities extra points in their application to college.
This ‘special treatment’ is supposed to rectify the years of oppression and brutality against minorities throughout America’s history and demonstrated a concept of “owing” to the people of America who are not of the dominant race. We all need to accept one thing, absolutely nothing can makeup for the years of horrendous treatment done by a country who wanted to assert its power and dominance and make itself a superpower. No matter how much this country “owes us” nothing can make up for that phenomena. We try to implement these kind of policies because Lady Liberty has a guilty conscience.
When we think of affirmative action policies we think of positive effects, but do we consider the opposition as well? Effects of these policies on education can clearly be seen through campus protests, events and announcements. One example of this is the Affirmative Action Bake Sale(CNN) that occurred at UT twice by the UT Young Conservatives that was meant to show the amount of discrimination that this racial policy holds. Figure 1: The prices of the baked good pertaining to race at the UT affirmative action bake sale hosted by UT’s Young Conservatives ( CNN News Article)
The figure above displays prices for baked goods based on race and sex, and is taken as an analogy to how the affirmative action policy is applied in universities. The top two races in the poster, asian and white, and the two races that predominantly get into college based on academic skill and diversity. Compared to the asian and white population, african american, hispanic and native american populations at universities are generally lower which in the figure above is displayed by a reduction price.
Statistics also obtusely back this up, college enrollment rate for Asians in 85% higher than any other race, and whites follow up with 63%, 49% for african american students, and 52% for hispanic students (National Center for Education Statistics). This event at UT brought awareness all over campus, and arose many protests and agreements. Also, not only did it bring local awareness, but the media broadcasted this nationally, informing people all over the country the controversy of the issue.
This brought up two major arguments, are minority students better off getting a more rounded education in colleges that suit their educational needs more , or get into a more qualified college to meet the college’s cultural atmosphere expectations? The first argument could be substantiated. UT’s 10% admissions policy statistics,70% white, 47% African American, and 71% hispanic(educationext. org), tell us that this policy is accepting a significant amount of minority students without considering the factor of race.
So why should a university add another policy when the goal of that policy is already being achieved? The second argument could also be well debated. The diversity of a college’s cultural atmosphere could be beneficial to it’s students in many ways(other than the fact that colleges enroll minorities to show how their ideals can be displayed within all races), such as enhancing social development and increasing worldly knowledge, increases consideration of multiple perspectives, and increases the self awareness of individuals.
Affirmative action has a huge impact on the student body and education campus, and it’s effects can clearly be seen throughout the years and on the minds of students. Education is the basis of our future generation, and we need to analyze these effects to get a cohesive understanding on how we can improve the system and set up students for more success. As the prospective student graduates from college, they may leave their textbooks and professors behind, but there’s one thing that stays with them.
The continuation of the application of affirmative action in the labor market. “Affirmative action is one of the most controversial government interventions in the labor market since the abolition of slavery. ”(Jonathan Leonard) Affirmative action pertaining to the labor market takes a very different stance. Under Executive Order 11246 (part of the Civil Rights Act), “ you are not to discriminate against any employee because of race, color, religion and sex, as well as take affirmative action to ensure that there is a diversity of employees”.
The contradiction of this statement is astonishing, and to have that nailed in the coffin known as our Constitution, is the ultimate blow on the use of this policy in the workplace. The fact that we must not consider race, but consider it in terms of diversity is overall a confusing concept and forced employers to establish ‘quotas’ to meet racial goals. This is very beneficial for white collar or craft jobs, where employers are hesitant to hire minorities or women because they do not believe they can handle the burden of the job.
This maybe one of the only circumstances where federal pressure is advantageous, and statistics show that establishments are growing to give more job openings specially for african americans, hispanics and other minorities, decreasing its 89% white-hiring percentage. The effects of these kinds of policies are significant on a 99% confidence level or better, and have resulted in better representation in establishments(especially minority females) and also benefit companies in their own employment growth.
However, these job openings are mainly in unskilled positions reducing the production of specially-skilled members of society, and basically producing only white specialties. Studied by Ashenfelter and Heckman(1976), taking african americans as an example, affirmative action increases total black male employment among federal contractors(quotas) but decreases employment share in skilled occupations and does not promote occupational advancement among minorities. Affirmative action seems to increase the demand for poorly educated minority males and females and less for highly educated minorities.
Although affirmative action has not reached a public consensus and vigorous enforcement, and is basically federal pushing in the labor market, it has prompted companies to increase their employment of minorities. After analyzing these effects, it is clear that affirmative action programs work well when they are vigorously enforced but broadly followed, and must work with the skills and policies that encourage occupational advancement and protect certain groups in companies.
The phrase “demonstrated need” originates back to the days of slavery where slave masters believed they were treating their slaves well and said the slaves expressed a ‘demonstrated need’ because they needed food, shelter and clothing. It was shown as a courteous relationship, the masters were there because slaves needed them to survive, and that was one of the reasons Southerners did not advocate for the removal of slavery.
Currently, this phrase means something different and it refers to the effects of the use of affirmative action on societal causes for this policy, otherwise known as ‘demonstrative need’. “Opponents of affirmative action argue that the playing field has been leveled, therefore rendering affirmative action futile. ”(Civilrights. org) This quote demonstrates two sides of this moral acceptance of affirmative action. The first side showing that minorities are being oppressed and they need help to be successful in our country, and only with that help will the playing field with the white race be leveled.
This can be supported by this example, the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium reports that although white men make up only 48 percent of the college-educated workforce, they hold over 90 percent of the top jobs in the news media, 96 percent of CEO positions, 86 percent of law firm partnerships, and 85 percent of tenured college faculty positions. Because of all this leadership held by whites, minorities need government pressure to receive positions like this.
This also lowers the moral status of minorities, as they feel the need to succumb to the expectation of society that they will always be inferior and always need uplifting. It also might install the mindset that as a minority they will get help wherever they go and they do not have to put as much effort as the white person to get a job. Another side of this is that minorities don’t need the help, and that America has paid its debt to all its minorities and therefore does not need to succumb to the concept of foundational support for its society. Minorities are now gaining positions of their own accord and do not need an extra boost.
This may not affect the moral status of minorities but it could increase the bias of employers as they tend to hire based on their own perspective and mindset, so there is no regulation in the diversity of the area. This ‘demonstrated need’ mainly gives affirmative action a mentality of it’s own, and shows the emotional effects of this policy on the thinking, behaviour and acceptance of minorities. A balance between these two positions is needed for the overall well-being of the person as well as to manage the perception that society sees of minorities.
Overall, the emphasis on court cases such as Fisher II v. The University of Texas increases an awareness in how affirmative action affects us in our day to day life, and how it could affect us in the future and our future generation. The effects of this policy drag on from future graduates employment rate to the mentality of these graduates as they go into college and the acquire positions of skill. The constitutionality of this policy can be interpreted in both ways, as either violating the equal protection clause on the fourteenth amendment or being an exception to the equal protection clause.
Even though the policy has been declared constitutional for now, the growing awareness of this case could make supreme court rulings flip to the other side of the coin, and affirmative action being taken away from colleges forever. We, as the people of America, are the ones that have the most influence on how we choose to let this policy affect us, and we can only take a moral stance by looking at all the facts and effects and coming up with maybe compromises or alternatives to affirmative action that most of the public can reach a consensus about.