The virtue and curse of have constructive conversation about affirmative action in our environment, and at our age, is that it directly affects us. Although it’s important to try to be objective in our opinions and think about the “big picture” problem, it’s difficult to keep your opinions separate from the knowledge that you’re one of thousands of qualified white kids applying to Yale, and likely almost none of you will get in. I know it sure is easier for Dr. Kennedy to base opinions purely on logic, because he is not, at this moment, being hurt or helped by affirmative action, but we are. Therefore, in order to make this argument, I am pretending to age twenty years, if only for the next several paragraphs. Please, forgive me if the sixteen shows through. In order to have active and helpful discussion about affirmative action, we must first understand the purpose of each individual institution, or firm, or university which is considering the process. In any of these categories, an all-encompassing meritocracy does not exist. If one is insisting that the reason for them to be awarded one of these “resources”, as Dr. Kennedy refers to them, is that they are smarter, I would suggest that they look to what Phillips Academy wants in their incoming students. If Phillips Academy only considered SSAT scores and transcripts and the amount of active verbs in your application essays, Andover would a very dull place indeed. There would certainly be more seniors roaming around in Gelb, too. Because it’s not all about numbers: It’s about coming into an English elective and knowing that someone will have a different outlook than your own, simply by the virtue of where they come from, who their parents are, where they went to camp and whether or not they worship a certain religious deity and if so, which one. It’s about what you have that can contribute to the community that we are trying to create and maintain. It’s about being able to challenge and expand the minds of your peers, simply by being you. On the whole, being accepted to Andover or any other prestigious institution is about what you have to bring to the table, and your ability to converge on the best (debatable) answer on the SAT is only a very small part of it. Although everyone likes to wax on about the importance of being politically correct, your race and your religion and your socioeconomic status do have a profound effect on who you turn out to be, not to mention what you have to bring to the Andover table. And that’s a good thing, because I don’t want my own opinions spouted right back at me. Chances are if everyone was the same around here, someone could be you better than you could. And if that was the case, a meritocracy would pretty much suck for you, then, wouldn’t it? Thea Raymond-Sidel is a three-year Upper from Iowa City, IA and a Commentary Associate for The Phillipian.