The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Equal oppurtunity should be a fair race

The subjects of affirmative action and reparations for the black community have been in the news lately, from the President’s press conferences to late night comedy shows. As I watched another news program on the subject, I began thinking to myself, “Do the arguments ever end?”

I listened to a young Caucasian man talk about reparations. He argued that he had never owned a plantation, never owned a slave, and shouldn’t have to make reparations for a time period in which he had not lived or for people he never hurt. I asked myself, “Why should today’s people pay for yesterday’s mistakes?” The arguments were spawned by the point system being used by the University of Michigan. According to ABC News, Michigan stopped using a grid that sorted applicants by grades, test scores and race a few years ago. Now the school grades applicants on a 150-point scale. Blacks, Hispanics or Indians get 20 points for their race, the equivalent of raising their grade-point average a full point on a four-point scale.

The argument is that this decision is a step closer to equality for some and for others a step backward. It is a kind gesture but not a fair one. I am both African American and female, and though I look at this idea as favorable, I can’t call it fair. I can’t just look at myself and say, “Hey, as long as I am being taken care of, I couldn’t care less that else is affected by this criteria.” The balance which has once hurt minorities has been tilted in favor of minorities, only to cause unintentional discrimination to non-minority groups.

There will never be equality when one group is favored over another. I can’t claim I am not ecstatic about all the help I receive on the basis of my color but I wish color was not part of the criteria. How about being human, being goal orientated and a hard worker? How about just being outright deserving of something great? Does truly possessing good character matter anymore? I am saddened by the people considered non-minorities who may not be accepted or admitted to an institution because a minority quota had to be filled.

Likewise, I am offended when my friends tell me they could have been accepted to the Ivy League school of their choice if the institution hadn’t needed people for their “minority program.” Some people may say I should just be satisfied that certain circumstances work out in my favor but I tell you for every gain there is a loss; the question is who totes the cost?

Affirmative action was necessary to usher in jobs for minorities, but just like a child who is suckled by their mother there comes a time when the child must be weaned and grow up to do things independently. People have definitely come a long way, and it is time that the affirmative action movement fade into the background and try to work with the court system to ensure fairness in a legitimate fashion. There are other ways to prevent discrimination than a point-based system. There should be no questions about race, gender, or nationality on forms that may bias employers or admission offices. No “minority” programs, let’s stick to “academic programs institutions of higher learning.”

There should be no ethically biased exams, and we should be identified by number on an application or exam since names can be easily discriminated against.

When it comes to hiring and interviews, human resources should be composed of a diverse committee of people who discuss why or why not someone should be hired. If we are serious about fairness, we should have a system similar to that of a court system. Human resources officers could be selected like a jury and the hiring boss could serve as the judge. I tire of inequality on both ends of the rope. Without status-blind systems, character is the last runner up.

The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” It seems that many of us are still awaiting that day.

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