Positive Affirmation: Affirmative Action in College Admissions

After her PSAT, Nicole Bahar ’18 marched directly to her dean’s office and burst through the door, not stopping to talk to friends or send a brief text to her parents letting them know she had finished. She was frustrated, confused and angry, she said, but not due to concerns about the test.

 

“On the PSAT, I remember I had checked off the box that said ‘white (of Middle Eastern descent),’” Bahar said. “It’s just not fair. I asked, ‘Why am I being generalized and put in a parenthetical?’ It was a mixture of feeling offended and also feeling like it’s unfair that I don’t get this advantage.”

 

Bahar said she was referring to the policy adopted by colleges known as Affirmative Action, a race-based selection process that aims to promote diversity and increase access to education for applicants of historically disadvantaged minorities, such as African, Latino and Native-Americans. The term “Affirmative Action” was coined by President John F. Kennedy in Executive Order 10925, which included a provision for the government’s “Affirmative Action” to guarantee fair employment without consideration of “race, creed, color or national origin.

 

Although the Supreme Court has prohibited the use of racial quotas, it has maintained the constitutionality of considering race as a factor in college admissions. In 2013, Fisher v. University of Texas challenged Affirmative Action policies as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause, but the policies were upheld as constitutional.

 

“At the core, Affirmative Action is a way to make things more equitable, but beyond that it’s also a way to enrich the collegiate experience and ensure that people can mix and mingle and learn from one another,” Upper School Dean Celso Cardenas said. “A lot of the learning that you do in college is beyond the textbook, and I think Affirmative Action lends itself to that.”

 

Bahar said that she believes Persians should be included in those who benefit…

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