Term Paper: Downside of Affirmative Action

Pages: 3 (1459 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Race  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] Therefore, many minorities may be unqualified for the positions, yet are chosen over more qualified candidates solely because of the skin color. This is an excellent example of reverse discrimination.

In many states, colleges and universities have quotas set by the government that force them to include a certain amount of minorities in their admissions procedures. This practice has resulted in reverse discrimination, as whites with better academic achievement are passed over in favor of minorities.

Future of Affirmative Action

Beginning in 1995, affirmative action has been standing on shaky ground. Addressing Affirmative Action in a White House memorandum, President Clinton called for the elimination of any program that creates a quota; creates preferences for unqualified individuals; creates reverse discrimination; or continues even after its equal opportunity purposes have been achieved (Wilkins, 1995)." Since then, the states of California and Washington have abolished it completely.

Currently, a pair of court cases involving the University of Michigan is challenging affirmative action. White students opposed to the university's affirmative action program have filed suits against the school (CNN, 2003). One lawsuit challenged the affirmative action program at the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, and another lawsuit challenged admissions policies using race at the law school. The undergraduate admission process involves a point system where African-American, Hispanic and Native American applicants earn 20 points on the basis of race out of a 150-point system. The Supreme Court's decision will undoubtedly be key in defining the role of affirmative action in America.

While an L.A. Times survey indicates that all Americans disapprove of preferential treatment based on race, there are still two sides to this story. Today, many people want to keep affirmative action exactly as it is, saying that it is necessary for democracy. Others support affirmative action but see it as a flawed remedy in need of change. A third group believes that a fair playing field has been established and is pushing for the elimination of affirmative action policies.

To address the history of racial and gender discrimination in colleges and universities, affirmative action policies have been initiated. However, recent events point out the flaws and uncertainty regarding affirmative action policies. While affirmative action policies have flaws, a successful solution to affirmative actions in educational environments has yet to be reached. Many of the gains won by the civil rights movements of the 1960s are now in danger of being overturned, and affirmative action is rapidly becoming the most prominent target. Objections to affirmative action, loaded with misinformation and distortions, fill the mainstream media.

The future of affirmative action depends on proponents' ability to be flexible, rather than trying to maintain current policies exactly as they are. And objectors must shed their color-blind beliefs and realize that equality does not exist yet.


Affirmative action was created to ensure fair hiring policies for all American citizens, in an attempt to ensure all individuals must be treated equally in the hiring and admissions process. Some of these programs have been effective and have an impact on hiring processes because they maintain that each individual is to be evaluated as an individual on her or his merits and not be discriminated because of their gender, racial or ethnic characteristics.

However, it is important to realize that, in many businesses and schools, affirmative action has established a quota system that rejects or accepts students based solely on race. This makes the original purpose of affirmative action obsolete, as it often causes reverse discrimination. In an attempt to solve racial and sexual discrimination, it is necessary to work harder to eliminate the sources of these problems - racism and sexism. Discrimination is only one of the symptoms. Affirmative action has acted as a crutch in trying to solve these issues but they have persisted and grown throughout the years. The original goals of affirmative action will not truly be realized until discrimination and racism are eliminated. This means that affirmative action procedures must be eliminated or dramatically changed.


CNN. (January 16, 2003). Bush criticizes university 'quota system'. CNN.com. Retrieved on the Internet at http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/15/bush.affirmativeaction/.

Crock, Stan. A Thunderous Impact on Equal Opportunity. Business Week, June 26, 1995: p. 37.

Giraldo, Zaida I. What Everyone Should Know About Affirmative Action. Peaceful Action, May 1995: pp. 44-46.

Wilson, R. Affirmative Action: Yesterday, Today, and Beyond. American Council on Education, 1995.

Reskin, Barbara.… [END OF PREVIEW]

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