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Elboute Supports A Different Kind of Affirmative Action
Tasnim Elboute '13 Contributing Writer
February 6, 2013

Affirmative action: an action or policy favoring those who tend to suffer from discrimination; positive discrimination. Affirmative action policies confront the social imbalances that exist for minorities.

I am a proponent of socioeconomic class based affirmative action. I don’t think race should be completely eliminated from the college admissions process but I believe that students whose families are in the lower income brackets (where minority families are overrepresented) are the students who really need a leg up for admission to college. There are many other issues with U.S. education that need to be addressed.

And admitting more minority students to selective colleges won’t solve the problem. Just having more minorities in college, some of whom will probably be ill prepared for the schools they’re admitted to, will not create a professional world that reflects the diversity we have in the U.S.

The American Psychological Association released a report on Ethnic and Racial Minorities & Socioeconomic Status, in this report, I found three statistics especially compelling: “African Americans and Latinos are more likely to attend high-poverty schools than Asian Americans and Caucasians; in 2005, the high school dropout rate of Latinos was highest, followed by those of African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives; and high-achieving African American [quote]Just having more minorities in college… will not create a professional world that reflects the diversity we have in the U.S. [/quote]students may be exposed to less rigorous curriculums, attend schools with fewer resources, and have teachers who expect less of them academically than they expect of similarly situated Caucasian students.”

I see these statistics and see a problem with our educational system in general. I see systematic oppression. These are the problems I hope future educational policy can address.

In an NY times article, David Leonhardt wrote that in order to bridge social gaps, universities must consider “wealth, family structure and neighborhood poverty. Those factors disproportionately afflict black and Latino students — and hold back children from life’s starting line.” I completely agree with Leonhardt and the statistics from the APA also display the need for class based affirmative action.

I think there will be a good balance of minority students without the direct consideration of race for university admission if students are admitted without factoring in income. Of course this requires schools with a great deal of resources but it also doesn’t put students from low-income white families at a disadvantage.

The affirmative action policies are supposed to give certain group an advantage; it doesn’t seem right to me that because the minority student advantage other students have to suffer. A class-based policy can also eliminate preference for affluent minority students. If a family has the proper resources to give their children an adequate education, then their children don’t need an upper hand for college admissions.

Class based affirmative action will increase access to education, diversify universities and the professional world without undermining disadvantaged majority students.