Recent talks surrounding affirmative action in college admissions have stirred up debates among racial and ethnic groups. Earlier this year, the proposed California Constitutional Amendment SCA 5 aimed to repeal Proposition 209, which was passed in 1996 and amended the state constitution by banning consideration of race, sex, and ethnicity in school admissions, public employment, and other areas in the public sector.
If passed, SCA 5 would have once again allow race-based affirmative action at public universities in California. However, the vote on SCA 5 was postponed.
In Michigan, the ban on affirmative action remains in effect after a Supreme Court ruling this past April. Though decisions regarding affirmative action have been made, its policies are still widely disputed and draw criticism from many members of the Asian-American community.
Affirmative action was proposed to promote equality and prevent discrimination namely among racial minorities, but a lot of people argue that race-conscious admissions hurt Asian-American students. For decades, Asian Americans have dealt with the “model minority” stereotype: the belief that they are the most successful group of students, excelling in academics and extracurricular activities while at school and then succeeding economically later on in life.
Race-conscious admissions draw swift opposition from the Asian-American community and students because their chances of being admitted to selective universities may be slashed. They agree that if students work hard in school and do well, they should have a chance of being admitted to selective institutions, no matter what.
However, the argument for affirmative action in college admissions persists.
For example, in California’s state universities, black, Latino, and Southeast Asian students are greatly underrepresented – but the East Asian student population is highly represented. Others argue that the “model minority stigma” is simply a myth: affirmative action caters to the educational needs of many Asian students, as a significant number of Asian-Americans do not excel at academics, and Southeast Asian subgroups are still underrepresented at many U.S. universities.
Proponents also assert that affirmative action creates a diverse environment for students to learn from each other. Additionally, the student body in many schools is not an accurate representation of the racial/ethnic population in surrounding areas. Affirmative action in college admissions gives hardworking individuals a chance to receive a high-quality education.
Indeed, deliberations over affirmative action have been hotly contested in the past few decades. Today, many people worry that race-conscious admissions would hurt people of color, whose acceptance into college may be seen as helped by these policies favoring them. Others propose that economic-based affirmative action may be a better way to create more diversity in schools. Though cases regarding affirmative action have been decided, there is no doubt that the education ruling will remain a controversial issue for years to come.