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I Didn’t Get In Because I’m White?!?!

April 9, 2011

In 1997, The University of Michigan had a lawsuit filed against her. The reason was because of the use of ethnicity in determining admissions to the university, called affirmative action. U of M prides itself on the diversity of its student body, so much so that it may have given a slight advantage to minorities when deciding who could be a part of “The Leaders and the Best.” Before I go further, I want to point out that I am all for diversity and I think it is amazing that I can sit in the Union and hear 12 different languages (or something like that). Human history has typically not been as accommodating to minorities and, although we do not see full equality, we are getting closer every day. Mill would point out that there is tremendous value in listening to different viewpoints and ideas from different cultures so that we can be enlightened and understand why we believe the things that we do. What I am not so sure about is the fairness the university’s admission process. Using a point system that starts minorities ahead of the pack before any other qualifications are considered doesn’t sit well with me. Now I know that U of M would not admit an unqualified minority just because they were a minority, just as they would not admit an unqualified non-minority, but is it fair to give them a head start? This is similar to an ongoing observation of job salaries and how minorities with the same qualifications are being paid less, on average, than non-minorities. I think most people will agree that this is not acceptable. What is the difference, however, between this and U of M’s admission system? Is it not discriminating prospective students based on their ethnicity, even if all of the other qualifications are the same?

This makes me feel like a minority even though I have not thought of myself as one before. From a Mill-ian standpoint, I guess that this can enlighten me and other non-minorities in the sense that we can feel just some of the discrimination that fellow Americans that are minorities have felt in the past. I wonder if MLK would have thought that it would be slightly advantageous to be a minority in the future, at least when it comes to pro-affirmative action universities? Is this the equality that civil rights leaders were looking for or is this just further pointing out ethnic differences? Before you read on to discover the results of the lawsuits, please vote on the following poll.

In the end, the Supreme Court ruled that ethnicity could be used as a factor in determining admission status.  Law School Dean Jeffery Lehman said, “The question is no longer whether affirmative action is legal; it is how to hasten the day when affirmative action is no longer needed.” [1] If this were true that we only have affirmative action to ensure enough minorities get to college, why do we need affirmative action to be legal if the people granting admissions are aware that they want a diverse student body and consider themselves fair?  In short, why do we need affirmative action if the person deciding whether or not to let you in is unbiased?  Is this really equality? Through our knowledge of political theory, what would our political theorist friends say about this?




  1. Josh Langer permalink
    April 9, 2011 3:55 PM

    Personally, I do not think affirmative action is fair. Even though affirmative action may increase diversity at Michigan, it is preventing Michigan from picking the most qualified students. Personally, I would like a system more like Locke’s state of nature. Just like in Locke’s state of nature, I think everyone should be equal in the college admissions process. Michigan should accept the best students possible regardless of race.

  2. Zachary TeBeau permalink
    April 9, 2011 6:37 PM

    Affirmative Action is such an unfair policy. Although I understand the basic ideas the the policy is grounded on, it is still not fair. I just don’t see how it is possible to be able to give somebody a head start on anything in life solely because they are a minority. It just does not seem right. If the university wants to have a greater sense of diversity it should not be “forced” by giving an advantage to students who would constitute that diversity.

  3. Stephan Sakhai permalink
    April 9, 2011 7:57 PM

    Though i understand the basis for Affirmative Action, I dont think it should be used at all, especially for college admissions. If you think about it, the fact that there is affirmative action for minorities, is in part exactly the reason they remain a minority. Because the college process considers them “lesser,” they seem to become lesser and become that minority. The fact that they get the “head-start” makes it seem, to me, like when im about to race my 10 year old sister, so i give her a head start.

    What bothers me is that there is such a thing is Affirmative Action. What makes more sense to me would be for colleges to put more emphasis on minority diversification but doing it more discreetly. By secretly giving minorities the same opportunities as whites get in America, in a couple of decades or even sooner, the next generation will be on the same playing field. Given all their parents had roughly the same opportunities, our children should then be more prepared for a fair reality.

    This is just a thought, but in the end, AA should not be as public and prevalent as it is today.

  4. Noah Gordon permalink
    April 9, 2011 9:54 PM

    Affirmative action at its heart is wrong. It gives one group–yes, minority groups–an advantage over others. Having said that, how else can minorities be given the same opportunistic to succeed that many white Americans enjoy? If your mother or father wasn’t given a fair chance to attend college because of his race, and therefore make more money and provide a better education for you, even if a college becomes totally “color-blind” it is still harder for you to be accepted to the university. Affirmative action is a way to level the playing field that was uneven for most of American history. But it’s also fighting fire with fire, using two wrongs to make a right, or whatever other cliche you want to pick. I don’t know if affirmative action is the right choice for our school, but I don’t think every ethnic group is well represented enough in Ann Arbor.

  5. Emily Slaga permalink
    April 10, 2011 9:38 AM

    I don’t think affirmative action is fair. Everyone should have their equal chance at getting into a college. We want equality for everyone, but affirmative action isn’t the way to go, at least in my opinion. I understand that they are trying to give minorities a better chance to go to prestigious universities, but by giving them brownie points for their ethnicity/heritage/etc, they are putting everyone else at a disadvantage, essentially “knocking us down a the ladder a few rungs” while minorities get a head start. That doesn’t seem fair to me. I could be put at a disadvantage in relation to everyone else for something out of my control?
    College admissions should be about things in you, the student can control such as grades, experiences, and who you are as a person, not your ethnicity or race.
    Personally, I wouldn’t even want to go to a college that I was admitted to based on affirmative action helping me get there. I’d want to get in on my own merit and hard work.
    I think we should have a diverse group of students on campus, but that should be easy to attain without affirmative action. There are so many smart students around the world or nation that are perfectly qualified to get in no matter what their race is.

  6. marklgreer permalink
    April 10, 2011 7:53 PM

    Was going to comment on this and everyone’s response. Got frustrated and made a separate blog in response. Check it out.

    • Nicholas Steiner permalink
      April 11, 2011 12:48 PM


      I want to point out that the reason I made this post was to generate discussion about this issue. Saying that, I think you are missing my point. I am in no way saying that you only got in because you are a minority because I am positive you are more then qualified to be a Wolverine. In fact, I do not appreciate you lowering me to that level and considering me to be that narrow minded. My argument is that I do not agree with the consideration of race in admission decisions. The University of Michigan website (the link is listed on my original post) clearly states that although a point system cannot be used, the Supreme Court decision did, ” still [allow] for the consideration of race in admissions.” If we are talking about equality, which I believe ALL ethnicities have equal capacity for knowledge, I do not think that ethnicity should matter in decisions. To consider ethnicity is only further implying that there are differences in ethnicities.
      When you said, “I refuse to sit here and allow people to think that all of the minorities on campus are here because of Affirmative Action” I again am extremely offended that you are saying this. You may feel that SOME people think this, but I DO NOT. Some people may still think that minorities need ‘a boost’ when gaining admittance into college, I however, think that the best and quickest way to move forward is to drop the distinctions. I respect your opinion but I just don’t think that affirmative action is promoting equality. I know that I would never consider race when doing business with someone or hiring someone so maybe this is why I feel so strongly against affermative action and why I feel that universities should not consider race either. I know that in the past, there has been major injustices against minorities. No, we are not at 100% equality but we are getting there and I feel the best way to get there faster is to quit distinguishing people based on whats on the outside and look to whats on the inside. I feel like we are going to disagree here but I respect and liked to hear your thought on this topic.

  7. Katarina Evans permalink
    April 10, 2011 11:04 PM

    As a freshman at U of M, I know that affirmative action is an incredibly prominent and controversial issue. For me, it does seem a bit backwards, to fix wrongs with more wrongs. While there is no denying that prejudice has resulted in injustice and unfair treatment, you make a good point in saying that it may be doing more harm than good, in further promoting racial difference and prejudice. Personally, I’m torn on the issue. Not because I think that it’s necessary to make up for the past injustices. That really would be impossible to do, but rather because residual racial prejudice still exists and everyone is entitled to a level playing field. It would be ideal if race really was not considered a factor whatsoever. Unfortunately, I don’t think we are at that point yet.

  8. Nicholas Steiner permalink
    April 11, 2011 3:58 PM

    Trying to tie this in more with our class, I feel like the existence of affirmative action implies that minorities are inferior to non-minorities in academics when it comes to college admissions. To go along with the false assumption that men are superior athletes compared to women, I get the same vibe from affirmative action. I feel as though that the competition between minorities and non-minorities is fair and this bad connotation that affirmative action carries does not give minorities the credit that they can do everything just as well, if not better, then non-minorities. Aimee Mullins had what some people would call a disability and she showed everybody why they were wrong. Although I do not, by any means, agree that being a minority is some sort of disability, I feel that affirmative action is implying it. Eliminating affirmative action will make sure that people can’t ignorantly say that the only reason (blank) got in to (Blank school) was because he/she was a minority. Minorities are slowly but surely rising in our society when it comes to political offices or positions in a company. Removing policies that divide the people will, in my opinion, help us live in a world where people don’t even notice race or ethnicity in private and public opportunities.

    I apologize if the title to my post was offensive or misleading to anyone. I was trying to get people to get interested, read, and respond.

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