Affirmative action is racial discrimination that aims — in the long run — to abolish racial discrimination.
An educational institution should be free to decide the cultural composition of its community.
Therefore, if an institution feels that this may be accomplished through affirmative action, then it is entitled to take up that policy, no matter what people with different opinions may think.
Let us first be sure that affirmative action does not violate the law.
The law deems racial discrimination as illegal, but what the law morally implies is slightly different from what it reads.
The moral implication, or purpose, of this law is to ensure that the arguably more powerful racial majority does not discriminate against the arguably weaker racial minorities.
Affirmative action, on the other hand, positively discriminates for the minorities and, therefore, does not violate the moral implication of the law.
Now let us establish that an educational institution has the right to chalk out its own policy and criteria for admission in order to achieve its goal.
The University of Michigan Law School used affirmative action in its admission process, as it believed that it would ensure “a mix of students with varying backgrounds and experiences who will respect and learn from each other,” according to Grutter vs. Lee.
Since it has been established that affirmative action is not illegal and that it is morally well meaning, the University of Michigan Law School has every right to follow this policy for accepting students.
Take Scripps College, an all-female institution, for example.
One might argue that their admissions policy is sexually discriminative against males.
But we see that its policy benefits the arguably weaker, or commonly discriminated-against sex, by discriminating against the “more powerful” sex.
Scripps College has never been questioned for this blatant “sexual discrimination,” as it has every right to choose who is eligible to avail from its educational benefits.
The main goal of affirmative action is to allow equal opportunity to the racial minorities.
But is it really effective?
If we were to put two people of different racial backgrounds in a room for 24 hours, we would assume that by the end of that time they would be, in some substantial way, exposed to each other’s culture.
But if we were to put five people of a particular race and two people of another race together in a room for the same time, the likely outcome would be that each person only interacted with someone from their own race.
This is to say that even if we implement affirmative action, the likely outcome would be that people of the same race would just intermingle with one another.
Also, in the technologically developed world that we live in, networking has become revolutionized to the extent that a child sitting in India could be exposed to a substantial amount of African-American culture by simply sitting behind his desktop.
While affirmative action may be morally correct, it is ineffective and unnecessary for exposure to different cultures.
Let’s take another analogy: I attend Union and am aware that it follows a policy of affirmative action. It is only natural for me to assume that the person sitting next to me is not as qualified as I am and was most likely admitted due to the color of his skin or ethnicity. Already, I have lost a good amount of respect for him and have assumed my superiority over him (in terms of talent and ability). Although I may try to treat him as an equal, I would subconsciously look at him with sympathy rather than respect. Thus, we can see that the affirmative action policy hasn’t proven very effective at this level of education.
In order to bring about racial equality, we need to put everyone on an equal platform.
Only then can we hope to change the mindset of the masses.
Affirmative action would be far more effective if it were strongly implemented in the elementary school level.
This ensures that children of different races are exposed to one another before they can form any racial, preconceived notions about each other.
By offering scholarships to the economically needy (likely to be the minorities), this also ensures that children of all races have an equal starting point.
This satisfies Friedrich Hayek’s theory of economic equality as a means to achieve economic justice.
This way, everyone receives a more or less equal basic level of education and, more importantly, everyone is looked at as a person rather than an ethnic group.
Now, when applying for undergraduate schools, each student is equitably well-equipped to tackle the admissions process.
Subsequently, when applying to law school, there will not be as great a disparity in LSAT scores between racial groups, as we see today.
Affirmative action at the undergraduate or graduate level rewards effort over the value of output.
People are rewarded simply for trying as opposed to being rewarded for the quality of their output — this takes away the incentive for people to work hard.
By implementing affirmative action at the elementary level, we would make it equally challenging for everyone to get into college and, therefore, reward only value of output rather than basic effort.
In conclusion, it can be said that, though educational institutions have a moral right to implement admissions policies of their choice and affirmative action is morally justified, it is only effective when implemented in the right stage.
When implemented in the elementary school level, we ensure that an individual is identified by his or her character rather than color, and that everyone has an equal chance to succeed in life.