White Paper Topic Take 2: Affirmative Action– Government Policy


I plan on writing the white paper on affirmative action.  Whether it will be focused on college admissions, hiring quotas or both has yet to be determined.  After completing an informal debate on the subject last semester, I have been interested on the various opinions on the benefits or drawbacks of affirmative action policies.  Some say that it is counterproductive to America’s end goal of a color-blind nation.  Others reason that affirmative action is a stepping stone towards that goal in that it gives minorities the same opportunities as whites who do not face discrimination.

My research up to this point shows that the main argument against affirmative action is that it causes reverse discrimination which does nothing to eradicate the discriminating practices of the past.  On its face, I agree with this idea.  However, I challenge the other notions surrounding anti-AA opinions.  For example, I have repeatedly read that affirmative action helps only those minorities from privileged backgrounds.  I was under the impression that AA aimed to help all minorities, regardless of socio-economic status.  I have found a very sizeable article (117 pages) by UCLA law professor Richard H. Sander.  I’m hoping this among other sources will provide statistical evidence of the harmful effects of affirmative action practices as well as clarify the purpose and origins of the policy.

The keystone argument in favor of AA is that it is not exploited to give the unqualified positions over those that are qualified.  Instead, it aims to level the playing field so everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed.  Applicants are still evaluated on merit.  However, if a minority candidate and white candidate have the same credentials, the position will be awarded to the former.  Traits such as race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or national origin are to be fairly represented in the workplace and on campuses.

I want to gather enough statistical support to conclude which opinion is better for the country in the long-term.  As of now, I see the validity in both arguments.

***My original proposal was a lame paragraph that I emailed to Jordi so I thought I’d try again

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