In defense of affirmative action

In his latest column, Brandeis celebrity Jordan Rothman has this to say:

I absolutely despise affirmative action and any programs in admission that give preference to people of racial minority backgrounds. First of all, why should people be judged better for the color of their skin? Like Martin Luther King jr., I belive that the content of one’s character should be the sole determinant of one’s success in life. However these, yes, racist officials seem to give preference for the arbitrary characteristic of race.

I respect Jordan, especially his uncanny ability to juggle so many activities (such as writing a column for the Hoot!) but in this case I think he’s viewing the situation in a narrow manner. We live in a society with a white-male power structure. Look at the composition in Congress, CEO’s in business, people in positions of power, etc. Colleges recognize this. Thus, Universities like Brandeis take in people who are disadvaned by the dominant rich-white-male power structure, such as minorities and the poor, and give them the extra tools they need to compete in a hostile environment.

The outside world is full of unfair competition. Racism and misogyny are alive and well. Brandeis wants to give some people a leg up so they can be better prepared for that unequal “real world” and I’m fine with that.






5 responses to “In defense of affirmative action”

  1. Lev

    I have to agree with Sahar, we live in a racist society, and equality will never be real in America unless we have integration and are able to reduce the mpact of white privileges.

  2. And there’s my second point: we live in a society today that is by and large sympathetic to the under-represented, and this is only multiplied at Brandeis.

    That’s where we disagree, Arthur. I don’t know about your experiences, but not only are Racism and Misogyny definitely all around us, but in our very institutions.

    It’s an invisible knapsack of institutionalized privilidges. Forget conscious bigotry: society as a whole is rigged to provide an easier time to rich white males.

  3. Arthur

    I share Jordan’s view, but perhaps not to his degree and, and not universally. I believe that because college admission is numerical and meritocratic, decisions are less susceptible to the racist leanings of any bureaucrats. And there’s my second point: we live in a society today that is by and large sympathetic to the under-represented, and this is only multiplied at Brandeis.
    I think affirmative action initiatives, but not quotas, DO have some place in the work environment, where rulings, if you will, are far more arbitrary.

  4. Tim – thanks for joining the discussion.

    I will have this to say:
    Remember, markets are *amoral*. I’d give up a bit of overall efficiency for a large amount of justice and equality.

  5. Tim PD

    come on jordan, don’t you have a response? you were in my econ class – affirmative action must be inneficient in some way right? Affirmative action, unions, and the minimum wage…blahblahblah… higer marginal costs, low supply…blahblah…it’s ok. go talk to Coiner and get back to us later.