Affirmative action as we know it today is a result of the Civil Rights Movement during the 1960’s aiming to provide equal opportunities for individuals in minority groups in education and employment. In light of the college admissions scandal, some critics have attacked affirmative action and claimed that it prevents college admissions from being equitable. In an article in the Stanford Magazine titled “The Case Against Affirmative Action” the authors argue that if affirmative action “were truly meant to remedy disadvantage, they would be given on the basis of disadvantage, not on the basis of race.” What the authors fail to realize is that race, by its very nature, is a disadvantage for those who are not white.
There are discrepancies among racial categories that impact one’s ability to go to college. According to the Pew Research Center, in 2016 the median income for White families was $47,958 while the median income for Black families was $31,082. In February 2019, researchers at EdBuild, a non-profit organization that examines school-funding issues, found that majority-minority school districts received $23 billion less funding than majority white school districts. The resources available at the high school you attend, and your family income are factors that directly impact your access to college. Schools that don’t receive enough funding or less funding are less likely to offer AP classes and other programs meant to be advantageous for the college application process and it also impacts student performance. There were schools in my hometown that were so in need of renovations that they had no heat and no air conditioning, and this resulted in the cancellation of school simply because they couldn’t regulate temperature.
As college students, we realize how important money is when making the decision to go to college and where to attend college, and we’ve recently seen how for some, affluence outweighs all other considerations. These factors and many others determine one’s accessibility to college, and as a result of systemic oppression and institutional discrimination the playing field isn’t leveled. For hundreds of years, institutions have limited the access of minorities to education and job opportunities. Why not use the college admissions process to try and level the playing field?