The Other Side

An Open Door

In 2001, I was admitted to the University of Richmond (U of R), a predominantly white institution in Virgina. I was a smart kid in high school – an honor student and scholar-athlete – but my SAT scores were not quite to the requirements of UR. So how did I get in? Perhaps, Affirmative Action?

Affirmative Action, as we know it, goes back to the 1960s when workplaces and institutes of higher education were required to take “affirmative action” to ensure applicants and employees were treated equally, regardless of race, creed, color or national origin. In short, the idea was to solve for past generations of discrimination and segregation.

Recently, the Supreme Court struck down admission policies at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, effectively preventing colleges from considering race in admissions decisions.

But is it fair to other qualified applicants who feel I’m taking their spot if colleges have to fill a quota?

There are two types of people in the world – one who has a plethora of opportunities to choose from, and the other who is limited by their background and environment. One student may have access to more opportunities simply because of where they live, the programs available at their high school, or even who their parents are; while another student is limited by these very same things.

If a program or resource can help well-deserving students who just need a chance and a way to get their foot in the door, then so be it. It’s the idea of equity rather than equality. Equality gives everybody the same tools and resources. Equity accommodates for what the individual needs to set that person up for success.

Maybe we can agree that race shouldn’t be a factor in neither accepting nor denying applicants for college admissions or jobs. But the fact of the matter is “separate but equal” created these issues in higher education that we are still trying to solve for today.

Did you ever benefit from Affirmative Action? Have you ever felt like you missed an opportunity because a quota filled your spot?

3 replies on “An Open Door”

My father and mother were migrants from Kingston, Jamaica. They met while attending high school in Bronx, NY circa 1972. My father later graduated from Manhattan College with a chemical engineering degree. If it weren’t for both affirmative action programs at Manhattan College AND his government engineering workplace – my (and my family’s) life would be much much different today. AA is needed, even more so today.

Absolutely! Your father could have had all the potential in the world inside him, but if it never met with the right opportunities, as you said your life could be much different. Thanks for sharing.

Comments are closed.