Affirmative Action Matters
March 4, 2003
Filed under Opinions
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Author: Crystal Belle
Since when did the definition of affirmative action become a policy that admits students of color by turning a blind eye on academic standing? According to Amber Hillman ’05, I, along with every other student of color on campus, am not academically qualified to be here.
Hillman opens her deliberately ignorant column with this question: “Isn’t it the objective of highly selective colleges and universities such as Middlebury College to provide the best education possible to a select group of educated and intelligent students?”
Yes, that is the goal of these schools. Within the framework of these goals lies an affirmative action policy. As a result of Hillman’s apparently meager comprehension of affirmative action I feel it is my duty to educate her.
Affirmative action was born from the civil rights movement over three decades ago in an attempt to rectify historical racial and sexual discrimination, which just so happens to be embedded in American history. Institutions with affirmative action policies do not modify admission standards. In fact, the same academic qualifications apply to minority students.
Affirmative action is not based on quotas and does not make exceptions for those who are unqualified. Instead, the policy looks at academics before race is even considered. Hence, the policy is a strategy to attract more outstanding students of color to college campuses worldwide in order to create a more diverse campus.
I don’t know if Hillman is aware of this, but despite Middlebury’s diversity, this campus is very homogenous. How many students here are from just outside of Boston? How many students are legacies? How many students play sports? Where are the conservative voice columns written on them?
Every time I look around, someone is perturbed because they feel some “minority” stole their spot. Listen, the reality is if you are of the majority and you did not get into the school of your choice, that is because there was someone else who had something you lacked. Do not blame a group of people for your college rejection letters.
Perhaps to Hillman’s surprise, every single minority on this campus is here because they are qualified, sometimes overqualified. Without the minorities on this campus, Middlebury would be a culture-less, bland environment.
Think of the organizations that bring life to Middlebury: African American Alliance, Alianza Latina Caribena, RIDDIM, UMOJA, ISO and the list goes on. Students of color who excel both socially and academically lead these organizations.
A blind man can see the many errors in Hillman’s column, which leads me to question the editorial staff. Yes, one has freedom of expression according to the First Amendment, however one does not have the right to publish fallacies, which leads to the perpetuation of the idea that minorities are inferior to their majority counterparts.
To draw more on Hillman’s blatant ignorance, I was horrified when I came towards the end in which she states: “Fortunately, we no longer live in the 1960’s, and in today’s world, race matters much less than it did in the past.”
Although racism no longer consists of public segregation and lynchings, it is still very apparent in American society in more institutionalized settings such as corporate America and college campuses. Race has mattered since the beginning of time and will continue to matter until the end of time.
To quote the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. correctly, if one were judged by the content of their character as opposed to the color of their skin, affirmative action would not exist. Maybe if policy brutality was not so common among minorities, then race would remain a thing of the past, as Hillman alluded to. This is what Dr. Martin Luther King wanted, racial equality.
No, he would never agree with Hillman’s idea that race should not play a role in the college admission process. In fact, he would be delighted to know that as a result of racial progress and social change, minorities are now considered in the educational applicant pool, as opposed to days when they were not even allowed to read a book.
So you see Hillman, as long as racial injustice and disparities are apparent, then policies such as affirmative action will continue to be necessary.
Crystal Belle is an English major from Brooklyn,