Thursday, February 27, 2014
Affirmative action, when used as a factor in college admissions, is meant to foster diversity and provide equal opportunities in education for underrepresented minorities. But is it achieving its stated goals and helping the population it was created to support? Its critics point to students struggling to keep up in schools mismatched to their abilities and to the fact that the policy can be manipulated to benefit affluent and middle class students who already possess many educational advantages. Is it time to overhaul or abolish affirmative action?
Professor of Law, USD School of Law & Member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Author & Correspondent for ABC News
Professor of Law, USD School of Law & Member, U.S. Commission on Civil Rights
Gail Heriot is a professor of law at the University of San Diego and a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Prior to entering academia, she practiced law with Mayer, Brown & Platt in Chicago and Hogan & Hartson in Washington, D.C. She also served as civil rights counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and clerked for the Honorable Seymour F. Simon of the Illinois Supreme Court. A former editor of the University of Chicago Law Review, Herriot has been published in the Michigan Law Review, the Virginia Law Review, and the Harvard Journal on Legislation, as well as The Wall Street Journal, National Review, Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union Tribune. She is the editor and an author of a forthcoming anthology of essays entitled, California Dreaming: Race, Gender, Proposition 209 and the Principle of Non-Discrimination.
Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Richard Sander, a professor of law at UCLA School of Law, has been working on questions of social and economic inequality for nearly all of his career. In 2005, he published the first broad analysis of the operation and effects of racial preferences in legal education. Widely considered the leading authority on affirmative action in higher education, he co-authored Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It's Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won't Admit It (2012) with Stuart Taylor. During the 1990s, Sander worked primarily on issues related to fair housing, housing segregation, and economic inequality, and his research closely paralleled a variety of civic work in Los Angeles. In addition to serving as the president of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California and founding the Fair Housing Institute, he helped the City design and implement what was, at the time, the nation's most ambitious living wage law.
Professor of Law, Harvard Law School
Randall Kennedy is the Michael R. Klein Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where he teaches courses on contracts, criminal law, and the regulation of race relations. He served as a law clerk for Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals and for Justice Thurgood Marshall of the U.S. Supreme Court. He is a member of the bar of the District of Columbia and the U.S. Supreme Court. Awarded the 1998 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for Race, Crime, and the Law (1998), Kennedy writes for a wide range of scholarly and general interest publications. His most recent books are For Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and the Law (2013) and The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency (2011). He is a member of the American Law Institute, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association.
Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Theodore M. Shaw is a professor of professional practice in law at Columbia Law School and Of Counsel to Fulbright & Jaworski LLP. Previously, he was director-counsel and president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, for which he worked in various capacities over the span of twenty-six years. His legal career began as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice, and he has since litigated education, employment, voting rights, housing, police misconduct, capital punishment and other civil rights cases in trial and appellate courts and in the U.S. Supreme Court. While a professor at University of Michigan School of Law, he played a key role in initiating a review of the school's admissions practices and policies, and served on the faculty committee that promulgated the admissions program upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003).
61% voted the same way in BOTH pre- and post-debate votes (16% voted FOR twice, 38% voted AGAINST twice, 6% voted UNDECIDED twice). 39% changed their minds (5% voted FOR then changed to AGAINST, 1% voted FOR then changed to UNDECIDED, 7% voted AGAINST then changed to FOR, 3% voted AGAINST then changed to UNDECIDED, 14% voted UNDECIDED then changed to FOR, 10% voted UNDECIDED then changed to AGAINST) | Breakdown Graphic
When presented with two statistics that oppose one another personal experience is more then anecdotal. Say for instance two studies show opposing views as to the consumption of milk. You first look to the studies and see if there is merit. If both have merit ,with acceptably flaws, cause as scientist we know that most studies are flawed in one war or another, we must then use our own personal, this includes the people around us, experiences. Most people looked at me while i was in college and assumed I was AA assisted when in reality AA has never given me any sort of leg up. Most would look at my friends and assume they were top of the class barley admitted to college types, when in fact they had more out reach support then me. My statement is not ridiculous it is supported by statistics and cannot simply be dismissed as "anecdotal". It is painful when anyone is not permitted entrance into their top college, i was one of them, even though they have dedicated a large portion of their life to academics, however the definition of academic struggle has been broaden to accept people from a wide range of back grounds, beyond the proverbial book worm, which i am not saying Asians are. Though I do not like the way reality is, it is the cultural nature of Asians that allows them to excel in school, just as it is the cultural nature for African Americans to not, of course this presumption is not across the board. Even if AA fails the importance of college is embedded in that person and will usually extend to the people around the causing a cultural shift which is desperately needed for African Americans. who will have a better chance to excel academical, The majority of Asian Americans still get into their college of choice, despite AA, which experiences aside, statistically speaking, deprives very few dedicated students, who, have to settle for second or third choice colleges.
I love the Intelligence Squared debate series. I watched over 20 of their previous debates and I currently use them in my classes through my work as a Community College professor. However, I am extremely disappointed in this debate. They use two African Americans to argue for Affirmative Action and they rarely use them otherwise. Their actions suggest that African Americans are irrelevant with respect to other issues, and that Affirmative Action is strictly an African American issue. Why not have a non-African American professor support it as well? The irony couldn't be more obvious. This debate was a bit offensive.
Well, you'd better listen to the debate first before making a comment on other people's comment on the debate. Personal experience is anecdotal and cannot be used to characterize what's going on in most elite schools that use AA aggressively. What sounds ridiculous to you may have some profound meaning to somebody else.
The "mismatch" literature is revelatory. However, it seems to me, the answer is not to end affirmative action in admissions, but that universities need to do a better job to provide a support system for under-represented groups so that they can thrive at these selective institutions. If the goal of affirmative action is to rectify the inequalities in educational opportunity that are a result and legacy of our nation's history of slavery and racial discrimination, then gaining entrance into upper-tier colleges is just a beginning. Providing ongoing assistance and support to help under-represented students succeed is what is needed.
Better doctors, lawyers, and scientists don't benefit a specific race exclusively in a way that counteracts the benefits to society of having better lawyers, doctors, and scientists. Merit breeds achievement, achievement breeds progress and growth. If merit gave California more minority graduates than quotas than the most heartfelt and historical positions taken are the most invalid.
Affirmative Action is not a solution to address the problems in Black and Latino communities and in the long run will do harm to them since it nurtures a victim culture and drains their drive to work hard and fair play. The mismatch problem of students who admitted on AA and failed in their profession also shows that AA does not work as expected. How about the Democrats put up a really good agenda to fix the problems rather than the notorious Skin Color Act 5?
Are there scholarships for African Americans in elementary, middle, and high schools that can boost their desire to work well academically and reward their efforts? Are their assistance programs for the 70% single-mother households that struggle between work and raising children, programs that can provide hands on help on a regular basis? What about the inner city kids whose lives are surrounded by the threats from drug and violence? Are there educational programs for low income families that having many children living on welfare will not do good to the children, their family and the society? If you do not solve the problems from the bottom, how can lift them up to a good college where they do not fit help?
AA in the long run will hurt the country. It is not only because it discriminates against Asians but also that it trashes the founding principles of the nation that all men are created equal and that hard work will pay it off.
This statement seems ridiculous "
The racial injustice/discrimination against Asian Americans is often invisible and silenced to such a degree that other racial minority groups not only have developed a sense of entitlement to racial preferential treatment but also they demand that Asian Americans sacrifice themselves happily--i.e., they "ought not" feel the pain because their individual sacrifice is necessary to help advance the larger social mission of ending racial discrimination."
How may college has this guy been to, during my undergrad and grad years I attended classes that were over 80% Asian......... so yeah it is hard to believe that that particular group is suffering too much from AA.
Interesting to see that all the comments seem to assume that AA only benefits Black people. What about affirmative action to White males or to the wealthy or to athletes?
Clearly the obsession with Black people getting any perceived advantage in this society is blinding you all from the fact that white people are just not that special and should affirmative action go away, the largest beneficiaries will in fact be Asian women, then Asian men, then white women.
The racial injustice/discrimination against Asian Americans is often invisible and silenced to such a degree that other racial minority groups not only have developed a sense of entitlement to racial preferential treatment but also they demand that Asian Americans sacrifice themselves happily--i.e., they "ought not" feel the pain because their individual sacrifice is necessary to help advance the larger social mission of ending racial discrimination. It's incredibly saddening to hear Prof. Kennedy's unapologetic response to Kim's question. Is this the way we as decent human beings should treat each other (a la Prof. Shaw)? Asian Americans' resistance to be victims of racial discrimination and their hard work throughout the past two centuries have enabled them to lift up themselves from where they were in the 19th century. The discrimination against Asians is not any less than that experienced by other racial groups. But why should they be singled out to continue to sacrifice themselves? On what ground can such a demand be justified? The hardworking children of Asian Americans deserve a fair treatment by our universities and by today's society. Should we all play fairly?
Mr. Shaw says affirmative action is a conscious attempt to address the under-representation of certain groups. Are white men "under-represented" in the NBA? Is that what he means by "under-representation"? Proponents of affirmative action can't have it both ways: if black people have historically been denied good education, then they can't be equally prepared for college. And if they're not equally well prepared, then they're not "under-represented." They're represented in numbers that reflect their preparation. You can't have it both ways, admitting inferior schooling but claiming they're equally prepared.
Agree. Two wrongs do not make it right. It's time to re-examine Affirmative Action.
The most recent Affirmative Action effort is SCA 5, which, if passed, would repeal provisions of Prop 209 and allow the State of California to deny an individual or group's rights to public education on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin. UCLA chancellor Gene Block supports SCA 5 which has earned the nickname Skin Color Act.
The "for" team--Profs. Heriot and Sander made a strong case by developing their argument through analyses of data and reputable scholarship in Affirmative Action. The other side Profs. Kennedy and Shaw made their claim mostly by appealing to the emotion of the audience. There're obvious logical fallacies and inconsistencies in their argument. This became clearer when Kim--the Asian American student asked whether they think Asian American students are harmed by the current policies of Affirmation Action. Prof. Kennedy seems to indicate that the discrimination against African American/Latino Americans is discrimination but the discrimination against Asian Americans is "sacrifice" that Asian Americans should make for the sake of advancing the larger mission of ending racial discrimination. How does this logic make any sense? So you want to end discrimination against one racial group by discriminating against another racial group? It seems Prof. Kennedy doesn't care if any individual Asian American student is discriminated against and hurt by the current AA; as long as his group is getting preferential treatment, everything should be fine. Prof. Shaw used an interesting analogy to describe the problem as "spaces reserved for the disabled in a park lot" --i.e. lots reserved for African Americans in elite schools; and he indicated clearly: we are sorry that there are not enough lots even for African Americans. So go somewhere else to find your own lot. This sounds like a knee-jerking rather than a rational argument. By the end of the debate, we can see that Affirmative Action has lost its way--not only it is doing harm to the beneficiaries but also it is based on an unfair/immoral premise which says giving racial preferential treatment to one group at the expense of another racial group is perfectly fine as long as it is not mine. So we see that according to this logic, we should adopt a double standard for racial justice; certain racial groups deserve more equality and have more rights than others. Doesn't this sound similar to the logic of the very racism experienced by African Americans in the age of segregation? Is that where we really want to go as a country? I'm afraid that continuing the current Affirmative Action policies in university admissions will perpetuate racial discrimination we have fought against in the past 50 years.
Affirmative action is completely unfair.
It is just reverse discrimination. Discriminating to favor those who have been discriminated against will only cause more trouble. Adding two negative numbers together only will result in another negative number. Affirmative action is another step back in creating a color blind society.
Also, affirmative action is clearly a violation of the Civil Rights Act and the 14th amendment.
In 40 years affirmative action will hurt African American and Latino students for sure. Take the Asian Students for example.
First Chinese Americans who came to this country as unpaid labor who worked and died on the rail road construction and their children from that day forward did not receive preferential treatment, they did not benefit from affirmative action, some of their children starved through their schooling, yet still they made it. Now we all know inequality is wrong, and while I have nothing against providing to qualified students, how can we determine qualified with such bias? Imagine all the Asian students who would out perform their class mates yet still be rejected a chance, the same chance we here speak of to help the minority, why punish Asians? Is there any quantifiable fact that suggest they fall short of the qualifications of the recipients of the affirmative action? Some Asian students come from worse neighborhoods than the Bronx, yet because we don't have a voice, we don't have a chance, although we work so hard, but we're cheated out of our American dream, simply cause we're not colored enough...
We have reserved 10% space for "disabilities", which is for low income family. Now you want to reserve a quota based on the skin color (40% for Latin and 10% for Black, and so on) and told us they are space for "disabilities". Tell me where to park my car.
Why would the Universities deny a student the opportunity of success, when the student is Chinese? Many Chinese Americans had rough beginnings as well, what about their struggle and challenged overcame? Chinese students who had grandparents sold as railroad slaves don't get preferential treatment, and look how they are doing.
AWWWW Poor white people. I'm literally in tears for your lost privilege.
Get over it, you little crybabys.
It is really just this simple: affirmative action is discrimination.
One can couch it in all sorts of highly moral sounding words, but it is simply discrimination.
That goes for ALL shapes and flavors of affirmative action, to include 8a contract set asides.
The practical result of such discrimination is that people who don't really "need help to overcome past injustices" often game the system to take advantage of discrimination. A certain "Native American" politician from Massachusetts comes to mind.
And what about the rights of people shunted aside to make room for affirmative action? When the highest SAT score at a university achieved by one minority group is lower than the lowest SAT score achieved by Asian students admitted to the school, that means the university refused admission to Asian students unfairly in favor of a different minority group. It is incredibly unfair to the Asians students who were not admitted just because they were not of a certain race.
This debate was thoroughly confusing for me. I still don't know what affirmative action truly means as no one defined it in the debate. In my view, It seems to me that that affirmative action is inherently "racist" and discriminatory. It says to one group that you are not good enough or smart enough so we are going to help you because you need it.
It also causes more prejudice as it gives people a reason to believe that the system is not letting in the best and brightest (to echo Guy's previous comment").
Further, it seems that we have no proof that affirmative action is even being implemented since we have no idea what the universities are doing in terms of admission. That was one learning I took from this debate.
Sometimes discrimination can help. I am Jewish and sadly at one time Jews were not allowed into law firms because of religious prejudice. Those Jewish entrepreneurs started their own law firms and became extremely successful.
Lastly, if I was Asian American, I would be deeply offended by the side arguing against the motion. They didn't seem to care about the Asian minority - just blacks. That was my takeaway and it was disgusting.
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