My Take On Affirmative Action

You are Hispanic. You will get in anywhere.

Affirmative action is known for giving minority students, particularly Hispanics and African Americans, an advantage in the college admissions process.

Although the original intent of affirmative action was to provide opportunities to groups that have been oppressed and discriminated, many believe universities use the policies to increase their racial representation. Consequently, affirmative action started a new wave of discrimination against underrepresented minorities applying to college.

At an academic program last summer, I was one of only two Hispanic students in a group of nearly 100 scholars. In the midst of a conversation on college admissions, one of the students made a remark about minorities not being qualified for selective universities. He argued that exploitation of the race card in college essays nearly guarantees acceptance for ‘affirmative action’ students, even if they do not have the highest test scores amongst other applicants. Simultaneously, qualified students who are not underrepresented minorities are rejected because of their background.

This student’s remark led me to question why I had been admitted to the program. Did I really deserve to be there, or was I another ‘mismatch’ in the pool of acceptances? Who determined why I was admitted? Would it have made a difference if I had checked off “White,” “Asian,” or “Prefer not to answer” in my application?

The notion that minorities are undeserving of their acceptances has become a common perception among applicants of races ‘hurt’ by affirmative action. It is deemed unfair that a student should be accepted to a university because of race rather than merit. However, as a Hispanic applicant, it is also unfair that my academic achievements are undermined by other students because of my race. My academic merits and those of other minority students should not be overlooked simply because we are classified as minorities. Though race is a factor in affirmative action, it is not the most significant component in the admissions process.

All applicants, whether minorities or not, must be properly fit for the expectations of the university, or they would not be accepted in the first place. These qualifications are often overlooked by those who believe there is not more to minorities than affirmative action.

Race does not define an individual or a college application.

We believe race is a determinant factor because students are encouraged to write about race on their personal statements and supplemental essays. But is there not more to a student than their ethnicity? Are experiences, social backgrounds, and personal interests not ‘strong’ enough when compared to race? Just as students are reminded that they are more than their GPA and test scores, they should also be reminded that they are more than the race and ethnicity they check off. You don’t define yourself as an AP Calculus or an AP History student, so why should you define yourself as Asian or Hispanic?

What do you think? Comment below!


Author: Saira Reyes


2 thoughts on “My Take On Affirmative Action

  1. This is a wonderfully written article with a fresh perspective. I think race is still an important factor, but so is diversity in geography, interests, experiences, etc. Nice article Saira!


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