This week, we covered two major social problems that are evident both locally and globally—the extreme gap between poverty and wealth that exists in the United States, as well as racial and ethnic inequalities. Given that these inequalities are manifested in many ways, including the education system, one might consider if certain incentives and/or quota should be set in place for poor and/or minority students since (on average) their admission to higher education institutions is dramatically low compared to wealthy students who most often represent majority racial and/or ethnic groups (unless certain incentives are offered, such as grants or scholarships, for example). 

Taking this wide discrepancy between poor and wealthy students and majority-minority students into consideration, do you think affirmative action policies should be implemented within universities to help regulate this great discrepancy? Why or why not? Are there any alternative options? 

When responding to this question, please support your answer with concrete evidence or references. Please also take into account the controversy over racial classification, affirmative action, and discrimination with regard to university admissions. It is important to also remember to utilize sociological imagination when considering how various contexts (i.e., historical, cultural, socioeconomic, religious, etc.) might influence, reinforce, perpetuate, or challenge such inequalities.
***Your response (blog post) to this blog above is required by Tuesday, November 13, 2012  at 11:59 p.m. AND your three separate responses to your classmates are due on Thursday, November 15, 2012***
S. Golnaz Athari
13/11/2012 11:26

Affirmative action is both a moral obligation and an obligation we have towards our self-interest. According to Princeton Sociology professor Thomas Espenshade, taxpayers can save 127 thousand dollars by converting a high school dropout to a high school graduate. Apply the math to the 3 million annual dropouts, and the United States can save 381 Billion dollars per year by helping these students to graduate from high school. It is obvious that those who do not graduate from high school also do not go to college. Lack of education impacts the life of the individual at a variety of levels, from income and happiness levels, to belief structures and culture. The result is a “package” that is the stereotypical uneducated, unemployed criminal. Does offering such a person a chance to go to college address the different layers of the problem? In many instances, yes it does, and for the sake of the instances that it does, affirmative action is a necessity.
The “inequality” that exists in the number of ethnic groups and/or racial minorities represented in universities is a continuation of the economic, political, and social discrimination that minorities experience from the start. A more effective way to address inequality would be to address the root causes at an earlier stage than university. This is, however, not to say that affirmative action is not helpful in addressing the issue, but that it is not sufficient. After decades of discrimination, minorities and disadvantaged individuals cannot be expected to compete at the same level as others without some help. A widespread, concise plan that addresses the full spectrum of the disadvantages that minorities experience can be more cost effective and have a greater impact than reserving a handful of university seats for them.

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Daritza Lahoz
14/11/2012 00:57

I agree what it should start at an earlier stage than that of the university level. Giving everyone the equal opportunity of going to high school (for example) would also help minorities. Minorities who are receiving the same education as others would allow minorities to be as equally qualified as everyone else in the admission selection process. Students would see more competition within themselves as they are battling getting into colleges based more on their qualifications rather than the fact that they are a minority. On the other hand, however, one cannot fully evaluate a person’s potential/ intelligence based on qualifications such as test scores. Such measures for evaluating the students would have to be adjusted so that quality for everyone is strictly guaranteed.

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Eric Pagdanganan
15/11/2012 16:39

Affirmative action is a great way to minimize the discrimination in college admissions. About the high school drop outs, I think we should help students to keep motivated so that they would stay in school.

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Daritza Lahoz
13/11/2012 15:16

According to Southeastern Oklahoma State University says that “Affirmative action programs are designed to provide qualified individuals with equal access to opportunity.” (Affirmative Action » Why Affirmative Action?. (n.d.). Southeastern Homepages . Retrieved November 13, 2012, from http://homepages.se.edu/affirmative-action/4/). With that being said, I agree that affirmative action should be implemented because it allows minorities to seek full representation in the education system. Issues with discrimination in the workplace would therefore slowly begin to fade. Because everyone has received some type of higher education, companies may therefore challenge their workers according to their level of creativity etc.
I also believe that many schools, however, only seek affirmative action for reasons other than simply giving children equal access to higher/ valuable education. Some schools seek affirmative action because diversity helps them receive funding. “The Student Bill of Rights, would take federal education funds away from states that do not provide comparable resources to all children at the K-12 level… Those not found to support comparable resources among rich and poor districts would lose administrative funds, estimated at up to 4 percent of all federal education dollars.” (Dervarics, C. (06/05/ 03.). Lawmakers Link Affirmative Action, K-12 Funding Issues Race-conscious admissions help ‘right’ inequities in local school financing, coalition says. Diverse: Issues In Higher Education. Retrieved November 13, 2012, from diverseeducation.com/article/2983/)
Affirmative action is also seen as having a negative connotation. As minorities are given equal access to education, they are still faced with the issue of having to deal with finances. If affirmative action also had some sort of financial aid aspect to it, it would definitely be viewed as something positive. Tax payer dollars would have to increase to make this a reality and we would therefore see the government prioritizing how the money will be distributed.

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Eric Pagdanganan
15/11/2012 16:45

I agree some schools were forced to use affirmative action so that those school can get funds.

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Richard Yi
15/11/2012 23:38

Along with the workplace, I feel like minorities will be more fully represented in society. I like the examples you used on how schools seek affirmative action for funding and how we can also use this action to offer financial aid. I think this is a great idea, but the funding should come from somewhere else other than increasing taxes.

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tajuana merella
16/11/2012 00:09

I dont agree with everything that your saying, as not all minorities need help with finances. A minority who is able to pay for school could possibly be denied access to a school based on his/her race, and that is when affirmative action steps in. But it still leaves the "minority" with this label as the minority, because if you go into a university in a rich county you are likely to see that the majority of the school are not minorties, and that the " minority" are sprinkled in.

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taiwoayantunji
13/11/2012 21:09

Affirmative action is a policy or program that is being put in place to address the issue of social discrimination against women and minorities in areas of employment, education e.t.c. I completely agree that affirmative action should be used to close the gap between the rich and the poor by making education accessable and affordable for all. Gender or the social group that a person belong to should not determine his success in life. Everyone deserve a shot at American dream. However, i completely agree with those people that argued that racial classification or the issue of quota in our citadel of leaning is an unnecessary development because it underminds academic freedom but it is not enough for us to look at the bad side of this policy without looking at it good side. For example, this policy gives opportunity for equal racial representation in our schools and give hope to those citizens from minority groups to have a shot at higher education. All measure most be put in place to fight all kinds of social inequality, class, poverty and stratification. All mem/ women were created equal and we all deserve equal chance to a better life and our success should not be determined by our circumstances of birth or our assumed status.

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Fabrice Mboua
15/11/2012 20:57

I agree that if a person of a certain race sees that his/hers race is well represented they will probably be more inclined to try and apply to that university.

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Richard Yi
15/11/2012 23:48

I also believe that everyone deserves equal opportunity and that ones ascribed status should not determine ones level of education. It is unfair to categorize people by their gender, sex, race, and age. This will also bring about a higher academic performance because of the increased competition.

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Fabrice Mboua
13/11/2012 21:59

The social problem that is affirmative action is and will always be a very controversial subject due to its racial ties. When affirmative action was first created in the 1960's I believe that it was 100% necessary at the time. Minorities needed to try and gain an "equal playing field," because in most of the country they were treated as second class citizens, and were not afforded the same opportunities as
their white counter parts.

In this country there is a strong emphasis on education, and we have some of the best universities in the world, and entry to these prestigious universities is very competitive. Even though huge strides have been made in the racial divide in this country, it would be naive to believe that minorities are on the exact same level as none minorities when it comes to being accepted into universities. These are statistics on enrollment of first-time, first-year undergraduate students at all institutions, by race/ethnicity, citizenship, sex, and enrollment status: 2001–10 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/wmpd/race.cfm) Table 2-2. There could be many reasons as to why minorities aren't as equally represented as whites, may it be financial reasons or what have you, but I believe that in this day in age all potential students should be accepted for their merits and qualifications. This is an excerpt from the National Science Foundation | National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) on the projected increased enrollment of minorities in the coming years: Increased enrollment in higher education at all levels is projected to come mainly from minority groups, particularly Hispanics. Enrollment of all racial/ethnic groups is projected to increase, but the percentage for whites is projected to decrease from 63% in 2008 to 58% in 2019, whereas the percentages for blacks and Hispanics are projected to increase from 14% and 12% respectively, to15% for both groups. (For further information on assumptions underlying these projections, see "Projection Methodology" in Projections of Education Statistics to 2019 [NCES 2011c], http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2011/2011017.pdf, accessed 14 March 2011.).

In reading these statistics it gave me hope more than ever that maybe due to the minority population vastly increasing, and soon becoming the majority it will force all universities for the most part to
accept students solely on the basis of merit and qualifications. Therefore I do not believe that affirmative action policies should be implemented within universities to help regulate the great discrepancy between poor and wealthy students and majority-minority students, because this could very well lead to reverse discrimination. It could very well be that a white applicant could have less opportunities than a minority applicant, and if the white student is a better candidate, I feel it is unfair to accept the minority student solely because he is a minority. The only alternative I can come up with would be to eliminate the part on college applications where it asks to state your race. Universities would then accept just the applicants that qualified all of the requirements and who merit to attend the
university. The only time the government should be able to step in would be if financial assistance is required. I believe if a student merited the opportunity to attend that institution, it is the government's and the institution's responsibility that it help the students realize that opportunity.

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Richard Yi
13/11/2012 22:38

I believe that affirmative action should be used within universities in order to give equal opportunities for education to minorities. In the most recent election, affirmative action took place when Maryland passed the Dream Act which allows immigrants to pay in-state tuition. I feel like this law should be passed throughout the United States because we are discriminating against those who are not American citizens. However, In Oklahoma City, an online survey conducted by the KFOR news channel discovered that about three-fourths of the population opposed affirmative action to take place in Oklahoma (http://www.governing.com/blogs/politics/gov-affirmative-action-dream-act-put-in-front-of-voters.html). Passing this Dream Act not only increases racial and ethnic equality, but also opens a door of opportunity to those who have been restricted to equal education opportunities. It also increases the competition for higher education because more immigrants will be able to apply for universities, instead of minorities feeling like they were admitted due to ones ascribed status. This will hopefully lead to more diverse students applying for universities which will increase the competition of admittance. Ultimately, this will lead to smarter students in a more culturally diverse population that learn to work and communicate amongst each other. I do not think that we should use quotas as an excuse to accept more minorities because of the lack of diversity in the student population. I feel like Immigrants and minorities deserve every right to have equal opportunities in education, especially at a college level.

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Daritza Lahoz
14/11/2012 00:40

I agree on your opinion about the Dream Act. One of the reasons why Obama received the majority Latino vote was because he believes that legal status should not hinder others from obtaining a better living for themselves and their families. The American Immigration Council states that “[immigrants] lack of legal status has prevented them from attending college or working legally. The presidents deferred action initiative will provide an opportunity for them to live up to their full potential and, in the process, make greater contributions to the US economy” (American Immigration Council. “Economic Benefits of Granting Deferred Action to Unauthorized Immigrants Brought to U.S. As Youth” Immigration Policy Center: American Immigration Council, June 22, 2012. http://www.immigrationpolicy.org/just-facts (accessed Oct. 13, 2012).) Affirmative action would benefit us as immigrants help our economy by working jobs that help to rebuild our nation. In the process of improving the economy, having affirmative action would allow us to see more minorities in professional career fields etc.

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Eric Pagdanganan
15/11/2012 16:33

More diverse in school is better in terms of learning other people's culture.

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Tmerella
13/11/2012 23:58

I think that affirmative action can be helpful at times and other times contributes to discrimination. There was a video I saw on affirmative action in Brazil and it seemed to bring more segregation. But at the same time it did help some lower income students have a chance to get into good schools. I think it depends on how it is being enforced and considering the people it may exclude.

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Daritza Lahoz
14/11/2012 00:22

I agree with your definition of affirmative action. I would understand why you thought that affirmative action in Brazil would bring more segregation simply because it is still considered a developing country. Affirmative action in a developing country would allow a reduction in the dominant upper class, thus creating a more equal society as diversity would be valued and encouraged. Although the video focuses on Brazil, I think that the affect may be similar to that of the United States where there is an obvious dominant upper middle class in societies with a large number of minorities. It would be interesting to examine how defacto segregation would play a role in such societies.

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tajuana merella
16/11/2012 00:03

Yeah, I did mention that it depends on how it is being enforced, which is the same thing you just said in response

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Tyree Gray Wesley
14/11/2012 00:15

Affirmative action policy was creative for issues like this, and what’s more important than education. I think affirmative action should be placed in universities. I do not want to be discriminated in any University I decide to apply to. I want equal rights like anyone else to get my education and I want my friends to also. In The New York Times, Thomas J. Espenshade says “1 percent of all Hispanic and black 18 year olds benefit from affirmative action” I want my changes to be better than that when it time for me to get into a good university for computer engineering. If anyone works hard enough for it they should get in any school they want to. That’s the only option in my eyes to make it near equal.

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Richard Yi
15/11/2012 23:56

I agree that education is extremely important in today's society. Affirmative action needs take more action throughout the country. This opens up the doors for education to so many people. I personally don't even think college applications should even ask for ones race. I think this because it is definitely considered when making student enrollment admissions.

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Tajuana Merella
16/11/2012 00:00

But is the 1% better than the lets say 50% of kids who arent a minority that get into good schools every year?

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Eric Fausto Pagdanganan
14/11/2012 14:13

I believe Affirmative action should be used in college admissions. Giving equal opportunities to everyone especially minority people is the best way to eliminate discrimination in college admissions. In addition, it will help young poor people and minorities to strive harder in studying. In a huffington post artcle mention that the students of color entering class has grown from18 percent to 30 percent in seven years at Wheelock College (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackie-jenkinsscott/college-affirmative-action_b_2121560.html).

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Tajuana Merella
15/11/2012 23:59

You should definately try to look at affirmative action in Brazil, and see if your outlook on affirmative actions changes. I do belive it is meant to eliminate discrimination, but can actually cause more seperation.

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