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Affirmative Action

            The debate over affirmative action has plagued American politics for some time. Affirmative action policies favoring African-Americans and Hispanics are justified in a few ways: they could be remedial, they could aim at achieving "proportionality" so that the racial breakdown in the community is mirrored in the workplace or classroom, or they could aim at achieving cultural or intellectual diversity. These policies are intended to extend to other designated minorities and to women. Proponents of affirmative action claim that a race that has been oppressed for years does not have equal footing to a race that has not been oppressed. They believe that it is not enough to merely open the gates of opportunity, but that a push in the right direction is also needed to level the playing field. .
             Affirmative action on campuses is achieved by following the principle of "proportionality": to admit freshman classes containing the same ethnic percentage as which exists among the community's high school graduating class. In order to do so, universities have to set different standards for applicants of different ethnic groups, because in reality, ethnic groups do not qualify proportionately. Government programs of affirmative action also are attempts to ensure ethnic diversity on college campuses. Such programs assert that by preventing preferential treatment, it will be the end of "equal opportunity." Civil-rights bureaucrats assume that disparities between groups in incomes, occupations, work ethic, or graduation rates are the result of discrimination, and that such disparities should be eliminated through goals, fines, quotas, and lawsuits.
             I believe the debate stems from the lack of universal definitions. Groups differ on the meaning of "discrimination", as well as "equal opportunity." I view affirmative action as a measure that has forced not only whites, but also many other minorities "to the back of the bus".

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