By Victoria Neely, Columnist
The touchy subject of Affirmative Action has been explored and debated a countless number of times for many years. Affirmative action is the act of taking into account a person's race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin when considering a person for a job, admittance into a college and so on. It is used by colleges all over the United States, which has stemmed a huge controversy over considering aspects of a student other than their merit to be admitted into college.
Many people claim that affirmative action is something along the lines of reverse discrimination. However, colleges and universities have many different reasons for using affirmative action, and they have the right to do so.
We are still living in a time where high school students all over the country are subjected to living in low-income areas with a limited amount of resources to succeed. They may not be involved in extracurricular activities, can't take AP classes and pay for the AP tests and so on. Many students in these situations are forced to work their way through high school, or simply lower their standards of college they will attend. There is no possible way to help every single student living in these conditions, however, affirmative action is a step toward giving impoverished students a chance to attend a good college or university.
Giving students who affiliate themselves with a minority group an extra chance to succeed is not implying that all minority students are living in poverty. The reverse discrimination argument says that there are white students living in low-income areas with limited opportunities as well. This is where colleges and universities differ in their affirmative action policies.
Affirmative action gives minorities that are underepresented a chance to succeed like many other students, and if it weren't for affirmative action, many students wouldn't even think about applying to certain colleges or universities. If there is one spot left and two students with similar merit, it is likely that affirmative action would give the minority student the spot. This is not discrimination.
Affirmative action is a program that prevents discrimination against underrepresented minority groups. In Hofstra's policy book regarding equal employment opportunity and affirmative action, it states that affirmative action is used to prevent the discrimination against minorities, and to ensure that they are being equally represented.
Affirmative action also has the potential to promote diversity. If colleges and universities only grant admission to students who have the best grades, participate in the most extracurricular activities, and obtain the best test scores, the level of diversity would be alarmingly low. College is a time to learn, and a perfect opportunity to submerge into the cultures and habits of other people. Diversity promotes a learning environment for students to accept people from all walks of life.
Ultimately, affirmative action gives students from diverse backgrounds an equal opportunity to achieve a quality education.