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Does affirmative action assist students or harm them?

Creating More Diversity Nathan Chao ’25

College admissions have long been like a race that places people of color 500 meters behind everyone else and expects them to compete equally. Affirmative action places these oppressed groups back in the running. – Junior Camilo Choi

The issue of whether race should be taken into account in college applications has come up as acceptances to colleges have begun to trickle in. In the rearview mirror, though, there are questions. How much weight should race have in a college’s admissions process? Would some races lose out on chances as a result? How will this impact the college environment? Although it’s important to note some people disagree with having race play a factor in college admissions, race should be taken into account in all college applications.

Affirmative action measures have historically been used to remedy this disparity in access to education by providing minorities who have been underrepresented a preference when applying to colleges. Opponents, however, contend that such regulations constitute reverse discrimination and that race shouldn’t even be taken into consideration when determining admittance to colleges. Even while higher education has become more diverse, there is still a long way to go before genuine fairness in educational opportunities can be realized. As a result, the debate over whether race should play a role in college admissions is continuous and complicated, necessitating the examination of different elements and viewpoints.

Sophomore Mercer Goldman said, “The issue of race in regards to college admissions is incredibly complicated. Previously, college admissions favored wealthy white students, but currently, it openly discriminates against Asian people. One way for college admissions to be considered fair is to exclude information regarding race, legacy, and socioeconomics. In exchange for their tax-exempt status, Ivy League and other elite institutions should increase capacity or open more schools in different geographical locations.”

However, all students can surely benefit from the unique educational experience diversity brings to a campus. Challenging the presumptions and prejudices of others can help students become ready to work and live in a more diverse society. Furthermore, policies that take race into account when enrolling students make up for the use of institutional racism and prejudice from past times. Policies like these can help level the playing field and provide prospects for success by granting students from underrepresented groups better access to higher education. By giving those equal opportunities to succeed, policies that give students from underrepresented groups better access to higher education can contribute to leveling the playing field. Ultimately, diversity must be a key consideration.

Failing in Execution – Sylvan Maggiotto ’24

The stress of shaping one’s identity to be the best college applicant is something that looms over many Loyola students. While we may deny it, the hope of getting accepted to a prestigious or even decent school is a motivating factor for many students to join clubs and pursue extracurricular activities. However, due to affirmative action policies, the college admissions process is not purely a meritocratic system, and this frustrates many students.

Affirmative action policies are an attempt to increase diversity and rectify historical cases of discrimination by giving preference to applicants of certain races over others, but some argue that this creates a phenomenon of reverse discrimination. In fact, many Asian-American students at Loyola feel as if they are held to a higher standard during the college admissions process.

An anonymous Junior stated, “It’s more difficult for Asian American high school students to get looked at for colleges because we all get grouped together and are expected to compete with one another. To admissions officers, we are seen as one type of student even if we have different interests and skills.”

Many students also argue that socioeconomic status is something that should be counterbalanced by affirmative action instead of race inequalities. While affirmative action may improve some people’s lives, providing preferential treatment to certain races is much less effective than improving lower-level education in the long run. The root of the problem that creates an imbalance in education should be addressed by helping these minorities become better applicants before college, instead of accepting that they will not be able to compete with other students in the admissions process.

According to author Thomas Sowell of the Hoover Institution, who wrote a book outlining the effects of affirmative action around the world, students of color that were admitted into prestigious colleges due to affirmative action have a higher chance of suffering from imposter syndrome. Additionally, some students of color who graduate from prestigious schools may have their credentials treated with suspicion due to double standards.

Zooming out to a broader perspective, an anonymous Senior of Asian background said, “Affirmative action has good intentions in its strive for racial diversity and equality, but fails in execution. In many instances, we have better grades, test scores, letters of rec, granted awards, and competitive extracurriculars, yet we attract more negative college results overall compared to non-Asian students with less competitive applications. Affirmative action is the only thing left in the Western world that considers a racial minority – Asian – not as a minority anymore during its process, even though its original function was to help the “racial minorities” of America.”

Overall, the effect of preferential treatment is counterproductive to reducing discrimination in America, and in order to tackle the problems at the root of racial inequalities, affirmative action should be tossed aside to make room for bigger social reforms.


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