What People Don’t Understand About Affirmative Action

With this summer’s SCOTUS ruling against affirmative action, it is predicted that enrollment of students of color will decline at universities, leading ulitmately to declines in the workforce participation. This is problematic because younger generations are increasingly more diverse. The lack of representation in the workforce creates a disconnect between the population and employment where organizations will struggle to reflect the very communities that they are trying to serve.

Despite this concern, only 36% of Americans perceive affirmative action positively. There are some common misunderstandings about affirmative action that people need to understand for these perceptions to shift.

Legacy admissions and other privileges are a form of affirmative action

Legacy admissions, also known as legacy preferences or alumni connections, refers to a boost in a prospective student’s odds of admission to a college just because the applicant is related to an alumnus, usually a parent or grandparent. Kids of alumni get special treatment at 80% of top private colleges in the US. This is especially prevalent for prestigious private universities that rely on donor contributions, which includes highly regarded Ivy League schools.

Moreover, due to property taxes directly impacting investment in education, students that come from wealthier and (often) whiter school districts have access to more resources like standardized test prep tutors, mentoring and work study opportunities, and strong athletic program coaching – all factors that are critical in gaining acceptance to universities. Students in these communities are also more likely to be surrounded by other role models that went to college who can provide guidance and references.

White children benefit from affirmative action too

As Michelle Obama put it in a viral online reaction to the recent ruling, “it wasn’t just the kids of color who benefitted (from affirmative action), either. Every student who heard a perspective they might not have encountered, who had an assumption challenged, who had their minds and their hearts opened benefited as well.”

Over 70% of white children live in white dominated communities. Often times, the first chance white children have to form genuine relationships with people of color is in college. When people grow up separated……

Read the rest of this article on Forbes.com



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