‘Positive’ discrimination is not so positive after all

By Cecelia Heckman
October 1, 2015

Employers and schools should accept people based off of qualifications, not race and gender. Creative Commons

Affirmative action, also sometimes referred to as positive discrimination, is the act of seeking out a minority group that would typically be discriminated against in other cultures or situations in order to try to diversify the candidates for hire. It is a policy that has been around since the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and is still enforced in many places today.

Not only can affirmative action take place within a work place, but it can also be used in the admissions processes of many colleges and universities. The debate that typically surrounds the use of affirmative action relates to the use within admissions processes.

Due to affirmative action, colleges and universities throughout the country have doubled, or sometimes tripled, the minority applications they receive in a year.

Schools like Harvard University, Brown University, University of Chicago, Dartmouth College, Duke University, University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University and Yale University fully support the movement. In 2003, they wrote, “Academically selective universities have a compelling interest in ensuring that their student bodies incorporate the experiences and talents of the wide spectrum of racial and ethnic groups that make up our society.”

There is much good that can stem from affirmative action, and it was definitely a necessary step for the country following the Civil Rights Movement. Without it, minority groups would still have been discriminated against and may never have been able to get jobs.

Affirmative action can also be helpful to those who were not given the same opportunities earlier in their life due to the discrimination of their group.

While affirmative action can obviously be helpful and was necessary back in the ‘60s, I feel as though it is currently an outdated system to be used in the workplace and schools. Contrary to the many that support it, I believe it is still a form of discrimination that should not continue to exist in our society today.

It is true that after the Civil Rights Movement, discrimination was a problem that needed immediate attention. In order to counteract this, the country implemented “positive discrimination.”

Now, however, the country does not need to fight the minds of employers and school admissions offices. In order to truly end discrimination, we cannot allow for any form of discrimination, even if it is “positive.”

Employers and schools are using policies that focus on race or minority status in order to combat racism, but where is the sense in this? To combat discrimination, they should have zero focus on they minority status of the applicant throughout the entire process.

Jobs, scholarships, and school acceptances should be made discrimination-free. Think of NBC’s television series, “The Voice.” All of the decisions on that show are based solely on the talent of the person, not on looks, race, disability or minority status. This is how to truly end discrimination, not by continuing it in a “positive” way.

I know that if I were asked to apply for a particular job, I would not want to find out it was simply based on the fact that I am a woman. I could be unqualified for the job or unable to perform it to the same standard as another interviewee. I would wish to be noticed only based on the fact that the employer thinks I was a suitable candidate for the position, regardless of my sex.

The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution made it illegal to “fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual… because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.”

While this protects against the discrimination against minorities, do we not also break this clause in solely seeking out minorities for candidacy based on the fact that they are a minority? What is the difference between “positive” discrimination and the discrimination which caused the creation of this clause?

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Cecelia Heckman

Junior Editor-in-Chief/ Executive Content Manager of Loquitur. Digital Communications and Social Media major with a Business Administration minor. Student ambassador, Assistant Operations Manager of WYBF and show co-host, President of Alpha Lambda Delta, member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists and member of the Cabrini Honor's Program.

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