Trump doesn’t care about you (the minority)

affact

President Donald Trump has just recently decided to have his Department of Justice team identify and then, if need, sue universities that are deemed to have affirmative action policies that discriminate against white people. “The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.”  But what exactly is affirmative action? Affirmative action programs are normally required by federal law which strongly recommend universities to offer or hold positions in admission to those of minority. Minorities, when talking about affirmative action, include, women and those of chicano, black, asian, and American-Indian background. The big BUT is that not all universities have an affirmative action implemented, and the ones that do are not required to have the same program across the nation.

As a student who is, actually, the majority at the University of Hawaii (asian), but a minority anywhere else, I personally don’t feel like there is an issue of abuse of affirmative action at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. In fact, UH Manoa is probably a more diverse university—even where white people are part of the minority in the student body. As a university student and someone who understands the importance of affirmative action, but also that students should be accepted on the basis of their grades and performance; I can understand both sides of the affirmative action debate. Although, I am more skeptical of a white person crying discrimination, than a minority student doing the same. My personal belief is that due to white privilage, affirmative action is necessary. Regardless, what I can’t seem to shake the thought of is: what is the importance of ethnicity when it comes to college admissions? If ethnicity is what they are so concerned about, than there are many accommodations that could be made for that in the admitting process.

When federal agencies first implemented affirmative action in 1964, President Johnson addressed it as a way to “seek… not just equality as a right and a theory, but equality as a fact and as a result.” So, never was it a way to discriminate against anyone, but to simply give everyone an equal chance at higher education. Seeming like an idea to level out the playing field, affirmative action had began being implemented in universities all over the United States. However, now affirmative action is facing the allegation that it is discriminatory against white people. Which is difficult to wrap my head around seeing as they are still the majority in several universities. According to Newsweek, just recently there has been an uprising towards affirmative action in universities and other higher education institutions. With that, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice, or DOJ, has sent out a document calling all lawyers that wish to work on a new project of “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”  Why now, Trump? From the extensive research that I did, I could not find one article that specifies why Trump, nor his administration, is deciding to litigate affirmative action…I really couldn’t.

In an Essence article, opinion writer Malaika Jabali is stating that this affirmative action attack is putting the minorities presence at universities at risk. But who really cares if the minority gets left out, right Trump? With various restrictions on students that are the minority already, the Trump administration is trying to implement even more restrictions on students who are non-white. Regarding the project the DOJ is hosting, they are being very vague about who the DOJ considers being at-risk of discrimination, they are simply labeling this whole issue “race-based discrimination.” Some supporters and critics from both sides of the spectrum are saying the these actions are clearly benefitting those who are a part of the majority and giving those of the minority a hard time, as usual. According to this NY Times article, the DOJ and investigators will be diving deep into students that got accepted into university; whether they are making the scores, making the grades, and graduating. I see no problem with them doing this, but will the Trump administration also look in white students progress in universities? Or are they left out because they are the “victims?”

With affirmative action, along comes students who benefit from it and those who suffered from its implications. Affirmative action is not a new policy, as stated before. For example, from Newsweek’s article, in 1978, Allan Bakke (a white male) charged the medical school of the University of California for “reverse discrimination.” Applying and being declined (twice), Bakke and Newsweek claims that solely based on his grades, he should have deserved one of the one hundred spots in his prospective class. However, due to the affirmative action program at the U of California, 16 spots of the 100 open are specifically for those that fall under the minority label. Unfortunately for Bakke, this means that since he is not a minority nor did he fill any spots labeled “majority,” he did not secure a spot at the university. Bakke then pointed fingers towards the U of California saying that he had been a victim of reverse discrimination. Further, the Supreme Court of California accepted his charges and the University of California appealed. I can understand this account as being reverse discrimination, Bakke has the grades and performance. But this denial begs the question: was he the 101st person to apply? Details were not released about any other facet of his application—just his denial. Maybe he didn’t get accepted because his application was late or absent at the deadline. If so, whether or not he has the grades, if he had turned in an application late to college admissions, that could have been the reasoning for him not getting accepted. And since he didn’t get accepted, Bakke cries wolf and gets the DOJ involved, claiming reverse discrimination.

A more recent case where it was thought that a university had discriminated against a white individual was the Supreme Court case of Fisher vs. the University of Texas at Austin. In October 2012, Abigail Fisher claimed to have been denied acceptance to the University of Texas at Austin on basis of reverse discrimination. This specific case, however, wasn’t a matter of reverse discrimination but just because Fisher did not have the grades and thus, crying discrimination because she didn’t get the acceptance that she wanted. In fact, there is a Top 10 Percent program in Texas where students that graduated in their senior high school class at the top 10 percent are guaranteed admission to any public Texas university. With this court case, it’s clear that affirmative action was used as a scapegoat for a white woman not getting what she wanted from a university. This case was decided in June 2013, that the University of Texas at Austin can use ethnicity as a part of their admissions process, even though Fisher was never guaranteed admission due to her grades.

For the purposes of this article, I had done extensive research on any affirmative action cases regarding universities and minority students. Specifically looking for prospective students who are a part of the minority and sued any university for not being accepted on the grounds that they were being discriminated against. I had found none. Maybe it’s because if minority students don’t get accepted into one college, they move on to the next. Maybe it is one thing, maybe it’s another. But whether or not they are accepted, nothing has moved to the level of Supreme court where affirmative action was not doing what it is supposed to be doing for students of the minority.

There are many ways to not only eliminate reverse discrimination, but also affirmative action. When discussing admissions to universities, I believe that if admissions were “colorblind” and based student acceptance solely on their grades and performance, that affirmative action would not be an issue. On the other hand, I do understand that the majority would still have a leg up on applying because resources available, financial stability, etc. And so then, this is why affirmative action exists. I understand why the majority may not particularly like affirmative action, but it really only affects admission. Once students are admitted, they earn the scores, grades, and graduate on their own. Then balance is once again restored and ethnicity doesn’t matter…well it shouldn’t.

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