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Universities that utilize affirmative action policies grant preferences to members of minority groups in order to increase minority populations on their campuses, to extend restitution for past discrimination, and to increase educational opportunities. The problem is that these institutions admit minority members using lower standards than they use on whites. Thus racial discrimination exists in our American universities as a result of policies that provide unequal treatment among white and minority applicants.

Nicholas Lemann of The New Yorker reports that the University of Michigan, for example, utilizes a chart, "A minority applicant with a 3.5 grade-point average and combined SAT score of 1200 would automatically be accepted, and a white applicant with those same numbers would probably be rejected." Another common practice of many universities is to add bonus points to applications from minorities.

Affirmative action has no place in our institutions of higher learning. Treating applicants differently on the basis of race discriminates on the basis of outer characteristics instead of considering inner abilities. As African-American radio talk show host Larry Elder states, "Affirmative action - preference based on race - is morally bankrupt and makes a mockery of merit." I too find it appalling that, in a nation in which we claim all people are created equal, we regularly and legally discriminate on the basis of skin color.

As Samuel Fish states, "It is undemocratic to give one class of citizens advantages at the expense of other citizens; the truly democratic way is to have a level playing field to which everyone has access and where everyone has a fair and equal chance to succeed based on his or her merit."

Another problem with affirmative action is that it draws unnecessary attention to race and causes tension between members of different races on college campuses.

Linda Chavez writes, "Racial preferences provide a diversity of skin colors and a division of sentiments. They put people of many different races together in such a way that makes each racial group see each other racial group as competitors for arbitrary advantage. That's not the way to produce an integrated, harmonious society."

Likewise, Dinesh D'Souza remarks, "Incidents of racial hostility on campus seem to be increasing. A new kind of racism is appearing…one that has been created by affirmative action."

Furthermore, minority students often feel as though they are inferior. As a Mexican-American university student, I felt this way because I knew I was admitted using lower standards, a process that seemed to me to indicate that whites were considered intellectually superior to minority groups. I also feared that others attributed my admission success to affirmative action policies. These policies lead many to believe that minorities are unable to achieve without the help of affirmative action.

Mexican-Americans are not the only ones who feel this way. African-American professor John H. McWhorter states, "Affirmative action gives blacks a deep-reaching inferiority complex that causes them to view themselves as victims. If every black student on a college campus was admitted according to the same criteria as other students, it would help erode feelings of inferiority to whites."

Along the same lines, Daniel Coliman says that minorities "are now perceived as a group of people who regardless of how hard we work, how educated we become, or what we achieve, would not be where we are without the preferential treatment afforded by affirmative action." Without affirmative action policies, minority group members would be given the credit we deserve in our achievements and successes.

Proponents of affirmative action, like the ones in the above photogaph, believe the policy is still necessary today to provide restitution for past discrimination. But Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas reminds us in Color Blind, "Government sponsored racial discrimination based on benign prejudice is just as noxious as discrimination inspired by malicious prejudice. In each instance, it is racial discrimination, plain and simple."

The best way to provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged minority students is to give them incentives to work hard. Most importantly, we must show them that admissions opportunities are equal. As D'Souza says, "Equality means 'equal treatment' not privilege."

We must stop violating the 1964 Civil Rights Act and follow in California's footsteps. In 1996, the state passed an amendment stating, "Neither the state of California nor any of its political subdivisions or agents shall use race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin as a criterion for either discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to, any individual or group in the operation of the state's system of public employment, public education or public contracting."

I propose that we send a similar bill to Washington. It should read as follows: "No public educational learning institution in the United States may use race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin as a factor to be considered in university admissions processes. Racial and other indicators will be abolished from all university applications, and applicants will use a number system in lieu of names. All applicants must be evaluated solely on individual merit and intellectual capability."

While creating affirmative action initially intended to dissolve racial discrimination, it has actually propagated it and, in turn, increased interracial resentments. It gives minority students an advantage in admissions processes, but does not encourage them to achieve excellence. It creates a diverse learning environment, but makes everyone believe that minorities need pity and are not capable of greatness. Therefore, we can no longer tolerate the negative effects of affirmative action. We must overcome this unequal treatment among races. We must, sooner not later, pass the above-proposed bill into law.

June 2001

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