Affirmative action is a notoriously difficult subject to think about, so imagine how hard it is to write about! I have honestly been torn on this important and contentious issue. On the one hand, I support a private university’s right to accept whomever it wants. It is evidenced, or at least posited, that diversity is a positive thing for a college environment, a veritable boon for all parties involved. However, it is hard to deny someone who is more qualified a position on the basis of race. Frankly, when I am part of a team or student group, I am interested in hard-working, dedicated and motivated peers. I could not care less about a person’s race.
The arguments are far more complex than my inadequate presentation, but they are not my main concern. The question that I want to drive home is this: What is diversity? The color of your skin doesn’t mandate a cultural heritage and certainly does not qualify you as different from me. My friend and I are of two different races, but we share many of the same social, political and economic concerns. I firmly believe his race is not what differentiates our pasts; his decisions, geography and family do.
Some people will immediately throw up their hands, perhaps with good reason, and claim that race affects all three of those. I am not a sociologist, so I have absolutely no concrete evidence either way. However, I do know that in this country, as much as in any, your birth is not a determinant of your future. It may be a predictor, but it is not a determinant. Likewise, it is childish to think that all black people are poor, latinos foreign or whites affluent. Your race alone does not qualify as diverse.
I do not have any solid answers for what does qualify as diversity, but it is something that institutions need to address. In my mind, at least, socioeconomic class as an admissions factor could not only bridge the race gap, but it could also supply schools with a greater spectrum of the American people. In that way we would move towards a university where all strata of society are involved. Now I imagine there are sound arguments against using class as a factor for admissions, which I hope will be elaborated on in the comments!