Affirmative? Negative.

Watch out supporters of affirmative action! On the first of this month, while you were busy saying “rabbit-rabbit,” new guidelines were implemented by the government that limit and change the practices of this hotly disputed policy. Galvanized by the civil rights movement three decades ago, affirmative action is a procedure meant to bring economic and educational opportunities in line with national racial, ethnic, and gender demographics. To achieve this goal, affirmative action proposes that women and minorities be given “special consideration” by employers and admissions officers. According to the policy, institutions should enforce quotas and preferences and create timetables by which to increase their diversity. However the Management Directive 715, recently enacted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sets new regulations for this practice. The Directive encourages institutions to disregard statistical distributions as decisive factors in hires and promotions. Under the previous Directives 713 and 714, organizations were politicked into hiring minorities and women when statistics patronized white men. But now, despite numerical evidence to the contrary, women and minorities will not be considered “under-represented”; instead, all decisions will be made “free of discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, reprisal or disability.” This new directive implements an effective and just policy. Affirmative action is a destructive process that is contradictory in nature: the very premise of the practice promotes the labeling and racial stereotyping that it strives to annihilate. You cannot create an equal society by employing racial and gender preferences. Instead, to create a truly colorblind society, you must practice colorblindness yourself. Furthermore, affirmative action stifles the principles of promotion and fairness intrinsic to our nation’s society. The very idea that people be given opportunities based on statistics and quotas is preposterous. People must earn their successes by demonstrating character, intelligence, and ability. By giving a less qualified applicant preference over a more qualified applicant, we are denigrating our institutions. Favoring members of one group over another certainly contradicts the vision of America as a country of equal opportunity for all. In addition, affirmative action lends itself easily to unjust suppositions. As a female, this practice supposedly benefits me. However, I am insulted by it: I do not want to be belittled by being granted a position in a college or in the workplace simply because of my gender. I do not want the overriding assumption that my success is unearned because of my femininity. For example, at my elementary school, an average non-whiteboy was accepted into a private high school, whereas a Caucasian boy with better grades and great athletic accomplishments was denied acceptance to the same school. Whispers and rumors circulated that the boy had been admitted solely because of his race. Thus, his achievements were tainted by the very policy which strove to give him equal opportunities. Through my support of this new directive and opposition to affirmative action, I am in no way advocating racism, discrimination, or an end to diversity. I simply want college students and job applicants to achieve their success on the sole basis of “deservedness.” I firmly believe that the best way to achieve an equal society is to practice equality, and not to profile people based on their gender or race. Certainly, I want to learn and work in a place of diversity. It is important to be exposed to other walks of life and ways of thinking different from your own; otherwise, you will never know the other side of the story. As a Freshman, I was fascinated when I met people from other cultural and economic backgrounds, and these experiences have certainly made me a more tolerant person. But, you can still achieve diversity without looking through color and gender tinted glasses and encouraging unfair promotion. There are plenty of women and minorities who are just as qualified as white males, if not more. It is these people who should be accepted into colleges, promoted in the workplace, and hired for new jobs, not those who serve only to satisfy a quota. Affirmative action does not solve the problem of gender and ethnic inequality, but rather exacerbates it by lowering standards. It sends the wrong message to women and minorities by not holding them to the same criteria as white men. It disadvantages those who really are better qualified, and it taints minorities and females with unfair prejudices. Management Directive 715 is in no way a retreat back into the days of white male dominance. Instead of promoting racism and sexism as its opponents claim, it is striving to end these discriminations by holding everyone to the same standards. And that is surely a step in the right direction.