October 14, 2005

Commentary:

Is Affirmative Action Still Considered Affirmative Action?

By: Elizabeth Torrez

For many years, Affirmative Action has assisted many minorities to get to where they are today. In fact, it’s fair to say our country would be a different place if Affirmative Action had not been there. But now that we’ve arrived at the point where our government and institutions are nowhere near where it was when the law was derived, do we still need Affirmative Action? Perhaps with some alterations –kinks ironed out—, Affirmative Action could mean something entirely different today than its origination. With a change in Affirmative Action, is there a possibility the results will mean sliding back to square one? Let’s check it out.

Originally, Affirmative Action was set in place for ethnic minorities, including women, who were at a disadvantage when it came to education and jobs. Hoping to eliminate institutional biases, equality was a goal for the future. As years have passed, we have seen an improvement in education, as well as a rise in equality for the once so-called minorities. However, the increase has not been enough to level out the playing fields.

Today, many believe the Affirmative Action laws are not doing what they were set out to do; that is, create equality. It is the demanding quotas and tax-reduction incentives that have taken over the original purpose of the law. When two candidates, one being a minority, are eligible for a position within a company, the minority may be hired to meet the apparent quotas set in place. The quotas were originally formed to ensure compliance with diversity amongst all. But as a result, some are now finding the non-minority candidates are being rejected so the company abides by the laws.

The possibility of an alternative to Affirmative Action is on the minds of many. In fact, some people believe that without replacing Affirmative Action with some alternative, U.S. society will be more segregated and blacks especially more marginalized than before. Thus, our country continues to go on day-by-day acting in accordance with the Affirmative Action rules and regulations. Do the structures, programs, and concepts that have been effective in the past still suit the present? It is this issue and others set to be discussed at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) meeting, scheduled to be held next year in October?

When we take a look at Affirmative Action, we realize how much we’ve achieved since its implementation. Many things have changed for the better. Many political figures have risen to the challenge of backing the act and making sure it continues to be in place.

However, today it’s almost as if the issue itself has become just as big of a deal as it was before it was initiated. We have another issue on our hands, which is ironically very close to where we started.

Many feel education is now shunned from those who are truly qualified because they are not considered to be minorities. It is a wonder whether or not the original founders of Affirmative Action would approve our current situation. It seems that the qualified individuals of the once majority group, are now slowly becoming the “minorities” of the country.

As our nation’s diversity continues to grow on a daily basis, the Affirmative Action laws are contradictory to themselves. Perhaps the legalities of the issue need to be altered to conform to our current nation’s status and statistics.

Meanwhile, a total elimination of Affirmative Action may create chaos across the board. There is a definite possibility of the issues going back to square one. The majority group could in fact return to being the dominance of our nation. It’s also fair to say, Affirmative Action it has worked well for the most part, but it has not been 100% successful.

And so, the best possible outcome at this point would most likely be a slight amendment within the “fine print” to re-justify the purpose of Affirmative Action and equality for Americans.

Elizabeth Torrez is a student at California State University, San Marcos. Editor’s Note: Working with the Political Science class of Dr. Humberto Caspa at UC San Marcos, La Prensa San Diego will, periodically, be publishing political commentaries from the students perspective. It is our goal to provide space for these students as they develop their critical and political thinking skills.

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