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Affirmative action hurts universities and students

The University of Michigan has been sued over its admissions policy based on the fact that it discriminates against whites and Asian students. It does this by giving 20 extra points just for being black, Hispanic or Native American on its 150-point scale.

Under the 14th Amendment, Section I of the U.S. Constitution, it specifically says, “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States … ” Of course, race-based admissions at a state university should be considered a clear denial of this amendment. But that is up to the U.S. Supreme Court to decide now.

Recently, President George W. Bush has been asked what his position on the suit was.

He came out against the admissions policy. He favors a policy like that of Texas, which accepts the top 10 percent of each school’s graduates to state universities. In my opinion, this too is wrong, but the failure of schools is another issue.

Affirmative action doesn’t help those it is intended to help. Giving minorities 20 points based solely on race actually lowers the standards those groups have to meet.

Affirmative action should be condemned by the minority groups it claims to help on those grounds alone. The university is saying that minorities are not capable of meeting the standards of whites and Asian students and, therefore, must be given an artificial boost. That is insulting if you ask me.

Let’s look at why admissions standards are created in the first place. Obviously, getting a college degree helps one out farther down the road of life in getting a job with better pay.

There is a demand for college degrees much larger than any college is willing to supply. Much less, they want their degrees to mean something, so they require students to go through courses to learn and prove themselves worthy of a degree. Since not all can do this, and there isn’t enough room for all those wishing to try, colleges use admission policies to weed out those who are not going to make it.

When colleges artificially lower standards it is taking a risk by allowing students in that they don’t believe are as capable of succeeding.

This means if the student drops out, the college won’t make as much money off that student as they might for the student who did meet the standards, but was eliminated on the basis of race.

Many cite the California reversal of affirmative action laws as grounds that affirmative action is needed. At schools like the University of California at Berkeley, minority admissions declined by 4 percent. What those who cite the Berkeley situation failed to say is that, overall, enrollment in the entire University of California system went up by 2 percent.

Also, because the minority groups are enrolled in those colleges without an artificial boost, they are more likely to succeed and get their degrees, whereas if they went to Berkeley, they would be more likely to drop out, putting their future in jeopardy by not having a college degree at all.

A color-blind society is what we should strive for, not one based on quotas. The fact is, colleges only discriminate on the basis of race to fulfill the regulations of affirmative action.

Colleges should want students who are most likely to succeed, not just students of one racial group.

Alex Hardman is a USF