Check out the new #AffAxnSyllabus to learn more about affirmative action from publications that have well-researched and evidence-based.
These are some common questions relevant to public debates over affirmative action, as applied to college admissions. Although affirmative action is also practiced in public contracting and employment, this syllabus focuses on the third area of its practice – higher education and selective admissions. The purpose of this syllabus is to highlight research that can better inform current public debates over affirmative action in higher education.
For the last several decades, with every legal and political attack on affirmative action, scholars of race and college access have fielded numerous media requests to discuss the implications of these attacks. Many of these questions have reflected the persistence of pervasive myths about affirmative action, its goals, and how it works.
As faculty, staff, and students at a land grant university, we offer this syllabus as a public education initiative. As some scholars have found, in addition to the pervasiveness of misinformation about contemporary affirmative action in the general public, bad information about the policy also persists among many who are actively advocating for or against affirmative action. We hope that this syllabus can serve as a resource to establish a basic understanding of affirmative action, including how it has evolved since the 1970s in the U.S., and to advance a more informed public discourse and policy debate. Particularly as contemporary attacks on affirmative action continue through the federal courts and the Trump administration actions, it is important for public dialogues to be well-informed. As such, we have created this syllabus to feature publications that have been identified as well-researched and evidence-based works.
Below are great reads about affirmative action.
You’re not going to get accepted into a top university on merit alone. The Conversation.
“…We should discard the notion that admissions is a meritocratic process that selects the “best” 18-year-olds who apply to a selective university. When we let go of our meritocracy ideals, we see more clearly that so many talented, accomplished young people who will be outstanding leaders in the future will not make it to the likes of Harvard, Stanford and Yale.”
“Vietnamese and Filipinos in the US, according to Thang, typically face higher educational hurdles than Chinese and other Asian groups due to the scars left on their cultures by Western colonialism…”
The Price of Admission. Slate.
“I believe affirmative action is a necessary policy to counter systemic racism and provide students with a diverse set of peers. But after seeing Asians take center stage in the debate in the months since I’ve graduated, I can’t stop thinking about the disquieting incentives that the college application process is creating for Asian students in America, as it once did for me.”
The U.S. Department of Education has dismissed the complaint filed in May by groups alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans, according to news reports.
NBCNews.com cites a department spokesperson saying that the complaint was dismissed because it mimics an ongoing lawsuit.
Betty Hung from our coalition, which supports affirmative action in higher education, was quoted in the NBCNews.com story:
Betty Hung, policy director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, a civil rights group, said she welcomed news that the U.S. Department of Education had closed the complaint against Harvard, but added that she remained troubled over the lawsuit’s intent to end affirmative action at Harvard and other American universities.
“Affirmative action policies help to level the playing field and to promote diverse university learning environments that are essential in our multiracial and multicultural society,” Hung, a 1993 Harvard College graduate, told NBC News in an email.
Equal opportunity is a cherished principle in American society that must be protected. Our universities should reflect our diverse democracy and expand opportunities for those students who have overcome significant barriers. Rather than letting ourselves be divided, we must come together to ensure increased opportunities and success for all students.