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Affirmitive Action And The Usa College System

3238 words - 13 pages

American society and Economy – BMAN 20610

Has Affirmative Action had any positive results? Should the policy be abandoned?

‘Affirmative Action has had an indelible imprint on the university environment’ [1]

With primary focus on the impact that affirmative action (AA) has had to African Americans in regard to College admission, this essay will seek to ascertain to what extent the policy has lead to positive results. While in addition, evaluating whether this policy is both a legitimate and a necessary feature within Universities in contemporary America, or should be abandoned.

Following President Johnson signing into law, executive order 11246 in 1965, the concept of ...view middle of the document...

This was following a landmark decision made by the Supreme Court in the case of ‘Bakke v. Regents’ in 1978. The court ruled that ‘universities (and other government institutions) could not set specific numerical targets based on race for admissions’[6], however the court deemed that ‘goals and timetables for diversity could be set instead’.[7] This ruling thirty five years ago, still forms the primary guiding principle regarding this aspect of AA in colleges.

The competing and somewhat conflicting aims and objectives of universities in regard, ‘to what extent should they pursue scholarly excellence, to what extent civic goods, and how should these purposes be balanced?’[8] , whereby affirmative action has been incorporated, could be deemed as reflecting the complexity involved in quantifying and outlining ‘positive results’ of affirmative action. Intangible positive effects of affirmative action in relation to African American students, such as ‘shifts in attitudes and behaviours’ towards them, are notions whereby quantifying progress could be problematic.

‘Affirmative action in college admissions was part a movement. Until there were explicit plans, very little integration occurred on selective campuses’[9], the concept addressing the issue of not having a richly diverse student body; within Universities prior to affirmative action was neither a priority nor a cause for concern. One definite positive impact of AA on African American students is that through the implementation of the policy, access to higher education institutions was more attainable.

Consequently through the growing number of African American students, attending Universities nationwide, both they and their white student counterparts were able to facilitate a more well rounded and valuable education experience. As put forth by Bowen and Bok, who in reference to a growing diversity within College Campuses stated ‘going to college with a diverse body of fellow students made a valuable contribution to their education and personal development’[10] Furthermore, it was detailed that in 1989, ‘76% of black students found it very important to learn to work
Well, get along with members of different races and cultures’[11]. Therefore through purely just the inclusion and integration of African American students into campuses that were not previously racially varied, African Americans both added to and subsequently received great benefit from the more representative student body which in turn facilitated an increased educational experience. This notion is supported through the detailing by Orfield that ‘ increased campus diversity increases economic productivity for both groups, perhaps through creating economically valuable skills that are not measured in conventional research but are clearly valued in the market’[12]

A further, major positive effect that AA has had upon the African American student population up to this point in time can be clearly illustrated through...

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