Wednesday, February 22, 2012

We’ve likely seen the end of Affirmative Action in college—and that’s a real shame.

Amongst the list of controversial topics, Affirmative Action is high on the list; I’m guessing somewhere behind gay marriage but ahead of tax policy—it’s just that Affirmative action has been out of the public view the last few years, until now.  That’s all going to change thanks to Abigail Fisher, a white student who is upset that she was not admitted to the University of Texas despite her high grades in high school which arguably should have been sufficient for her to be accepted.   She was not admitted, she claims, according to her race; and Affirmative Action is to blame.

Back in 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities could use race as a deciding factor in regards to admission.  Sandra Day O’Connor wrote the final opinion for this case, and she felt that adding diversity to college classrooms “encourages lively classroom discussions, fosters cross-racial harmony and cultivates leaders seen as legitimate” (New York Times).  (My own perspective on diversity in education can be seen here).

The Supreme Court will be taking up this issue in the fall, right during the heat of the presidential elections (like there wasn’t enough divisive issues already), and I can already tell you what’s going to happen—it’s going to be overturned.  Guaranteed.  No doubt about it.  In a political climate in which individual freedom is trumpeted as a divine right and in which “big government” is being cast as the devil, there’s no way this gets upheld. Plus there’s the minor inconvenience that Sandra Day O’Connor has retired and conservative Justice Samuel Alito is in her place.

This fall is going to be the ultimate political cage match, “class-warfare,” ObamaCare, and now “Affirmative Action.”  Tired of all the over-the-top political rhetoric? You ain’t heard nothin’ yet; this is only the beginning, and it is so appropriate.  This entire election is going to come down to socio-economics and what is “fair.” Ms. Fisher thinks she was “discriminated” against because of her race—that’s right, because of the fact she’s white.  I don’t know much about Ms. Fisher, but she’s from Sugar Land, TX a wealthy suburb of Houston.  Sugar Land is one of the most affluent cities in Texas with a median family income of $113,261 and a median home price of $369,600.  Sugar Land has the most “master planned communities” in Fort Bend County, which itself has the most “master  planned communities” (McMansions) in the nation; seems like Sugar Land is a nice place to call home.

America is theoretically a place where everyone has a “fair-shot.”  I was watching “The Five” on FoxNews the other night and the group got into a little discussion about whether America has a level playing field.   “The Five” consisted of 4 young, attractive conservatives (2 male, 2 female) and a fat, old liberal wearing suspenders (that’s “fair and balanced for ya’).  Anyway, Suspenders asked whether a “crack baby” born in the Bronx has the same shot in life as a white baby born of a two parent home in Connecticut (or for that matter, Sugar Land). Sure enough, Mr. GQ conservative says “absolutely.” Uh huh.

So this is really what Affirmative Action comes down to and why it’s a microcosm for everything that‘s going on in the political spectrum right now.  Affirmative Action tries to rectify the obvious (yes Mr. GQ conservative, it is obvious) that “crack baby” and “Sugar Land” baby do not in any way, shape, or form have an equal shot.   Previously, acceptance into UT required the student be in the top 10% of their high school class.  It seems strikingly apparent that growing up in an affluent two-parent household might not be the same as growing up the child of a single mom who works two, maybe three jobs to pay the bills. Heck, would a single-parent child even have the money to pay for a lawyer to sue over Affirmative Action? Would they even have a chance in their poorly funded, overly crowded, run-down city schools to learn about Affirmative Action?

It’s quite a shame, really. I’m incredibly saddened for the minority students who already disproportionately have so many obstacles in their way and now there will be yet another hurdle to jump. It’s really a shame—yes, shame on you Abigail Fisher, shame on you.

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