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Rethinking Affirmative Action


My thoughts: Basically, I agree but I think you're underestimating the strength of arguments appealing to the interests of universities/employers/society-as-a-whole.

I m an African-American so I m not going to pretend that Affirmative Action hasn t aeecftfd me in my schooling as far as college acceptances, scholarships, etc. But even so, my thoughts and overall opinion of AA are pretty complicated and not fully formed. I will address them later. For now I d just like to say that one of the most annoying things that comes with discussing AA with other people is the fact that the topic of AA is almost always relegated exclusively to race. The most common connotation for AA is the idea that people within underrepresented races get opportunities that whites of equal (or higher) qualification are denied. And although that idea can potentially describe many of the situations in which affirmative action plays a part, it doesn t accurately describe all of them. I d like to use myself as an example to illustrate this point, my college search during my senior year in high school in particular. As I already stated, I m an African American student. My high school grades and test scores exceeded the requirements for Penn State and during the college application process I viewed it as a safety school. And obviously, since I m typing this blog post now, I made it in and chose to come here. But let s just pretend things were different and I was kind of teetering on the edge of the minimum requirements. And let s pretend that even though Penn State wasn t such a safe bet, I still made it in. Let s also go as far as to say that another person, of white descent, who had the same grades and test scores as me, didn t make it in. I think the first thing that person would think is that affirmative action played a role in my being selected to attend Penn State and they would assume that the biggest factor in my being selected over him or herself would be my race. However, they wouldn t be taking into consideration all of the different factors that go into the student selection process that Penn State employs. Penn State looks at factors such as whether or not the student is from Pennsylvania, whether or not the student s parents went to Penn State, etc. The entire selection process doesn t just come down to race, even in cases where affirmative action is used. Having taken this course, my views on affirmative action are that it is needed in schools, the workforce, and wherever else, but not necessarily by looking at just one factor such as race. I think the prevailing factor behind affirmative action should be socioeconomic status. What resources does this person have to get ahead? In the case of a high school student looking at colleges, does a poor person have the same access to tutors and good schools as a rich person? And in the case of finding jobs, does everyone have the same network of well-connected peers? And after learning about race and socioeconomic status in America through this course, I think that affirmative action would still pan out the way it is currently in regards to race due to the fact that underrepresented minorities are typically the least affluent in the country.

<p>To Whom it my Concern.<br /> Thank you for a very insightful posting on affirmative action. Though I agree with most of your views on the topic of affirmative action I have to point out that your proposal of a third rationale based on fairness is admirable but appears to be misguided. By looking at the ethical implication of affirmative action policies for hiring and promotion of employees, I will attempt to illustrate why I disagree with your proposed point in the passages to follow. Affirmative action is not only a topic that interests me but is also one which has affected me in the past. I try will remain objective and base my views on ethical theory.</p> <p>There are two competing schools of thought regarding affirmative action policies. The first stands in opposition to quota systems for hiring employees based on the views that all people are entitled to equal opportunity, and equal protection in a colour blind and non sexiest society. Their views are that protection by Civil Right Law should only be offered to those that have been victims of discrimination and not merely based on group membership. They are also of the opinion that this system of hiring goals and quotas only work to create new victims of discrimination ( Beauchamp, 2004, pg. 353).<br /> The second school of thought supports strong affirmative action policies. "Strong affirmative action is where, given two candidates who are both able to do the job at hand, preference is given to the candidate from the socially less advantaged group, even if the other candidate is more able ( Nagel, as sited in Beauchamp &amp; Bowie, 2004, p.339)." The supporters of this school of thought justifies affirmative action programs as correction of discriminatory employment practices, not group compensation for prior injustices. The original meaning of affirmative action was minimalist, these were plans to safe-guard equal opportunity, to protect against discrimination and to advertise positions openly ensuring recruitment from specific groups. Now it is associated with quotas and preferential policies that targets specific groups like woman and minority groups. (Beauchamp, 2004, p. 353)</p> <p>Both schools of thought would be in agreement with each other if legal enforcement of the Civil Rights Laws could eliminate discriminatory treatment and protect its victims. However the second school of thought with which I agree will have difficulty with this system being acceptable as it is hard to prove that those who have benefited from past discrimination policies deserve their advantage. As well as whether the Civil Rights Law approach will effectively deal with current discriminatory action without resorting to quotas. If prejudices continue there will always be some form of discrimination be it toward minorities, woman or the disabled and there will always be a need for quotas.<br /> In my experience as an employee I have been a victim of discrimination and was appointed in a leadership position which I was well qualified for and was made to believe that it was an appointment based on quota and not merit. This damaged my self-esteem and I thought that I was being treated unfairly, that I should have been judged on my abilities and not by group membership. In spite of this treatment I tend to agree with Nagel's argument, that affirmative action policies for some groups be it minorities, previously disadvantage, woman or the disabled strong affirmative action policies can be justified especially where there has been long term discrimination against a group.</p> <p>As Beauchamp suggests corporations should have voluntary programs that uses target goals and quotas and not legally enforced goals and quotas. He also states that there are at least three reasons why responsible businesses should use aggressive plans to incorporate goals and quotas namely:<br /> 1.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;An improved work force<br /> Businesses that discriminate will not attract a full range of possible qualified candidates and will thus end up with a high percentage of second rate employees.<br /> 2.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Maintenance of a bias-free corporate environment<br /> Managers in businesses without aggressive affirmative action plans will fail to recognise their own biases and stereotypes.<br /> 3.&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;Congeniality to managerial planning<br /> Affirmative action programs involving quotas have been successful for the corporations that have adopted them and there is no need to fix what is not broken.</p> <p>Beauchamp also point to the survey results of over 300 top corporate executives reported that 72 percent of them believed that hiring minorities improved productivity rather than hampering it and that 64 percent said that there needs to be government help to bring more woman and minorities into the main stream work force (Beauchamp, 2004, p. 358).</p> <p>Conclusion<br /> If we could rely on the law-makers to ensure that we are all treated fairly during the hiring process I would conclude differently but as it is difficult for law-makers to effectively eliminate discriminatory processes without quotas as well as determining if the advantages which some have gained through the processes and policies of discrimination in the past, I have to concluded that voluntary programmed goals and quotas. Even though you rationale of fairness is admirable we have to apply policies that is proven to be effective. For this reason I would have to agree with Beauchamp suggestion that organisations should adopt voluntary program goals and quotas. This process of goals and quotas will help to eradicate discriminatory practices in corporations and hopefully society. It is my hope that in future there will be no need for program goals or quotas but in the short term I feel there is still a need for them. To quote Beauchamp, "Although much is now known about patterns of discrimination, much remains to be discovered, in part because it is hidden and subtle" (Beauchamp, 2004, p. 355).</p> <p>Reference:<br /> Beauchamp, T.L. (2004). Goals and quotas in hiring and promotion. In T.L. Beauchamp &amp; N.E. Bowie (Eds.), Ethical theory and business (7th ed., pp. 352-360). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.</p> <p>Sholes, V. (2012). Hiring and Promoting Employees: Business Ethics, Lower Hutt, New Zealand: The Open Polytechnic</p>

To Whom It May Concern: In 2011, The State University of New York Press (SUNY Press) published the second edition of my co-authored volume titled, “Affirmative Action in Antidiscrimination Law and Policy: An Overview and Synthesis.” This interdisciplinary treatise/casebook --designed to update and significantly expand the first edition of 2002--covers United States race/ethnic/gender affirmative action and diversity undertakings in employment, education (k-12 and higher), voting and housing. Discrimination affecting U.S. senior workers, the disabled, and gays is also addressed for the purpose of promoting a comprehensive and evenhanded portrait of affirmative action informed by law, history, political science, sociology and economics. The publication is appropriate for research and classroom instructional purposes. If you are interested in looking at excerpts from the second edition and its table of contents , click on the following hyperlink You will thus be linked to thbe Google Books preview, as well as to the SUNY Press website which has information about obtaining exam copies. The Google preview for the second edition also features a “search in this book” function (located in top left corner under book-cover illustration) which permits excerpt searches of concepts and names found in the volume (e. g., diversity; disparate impact; Bakke). Your evaluation of the volume would be appreciated. Sincerely, Wm. Leiter—Professor of Political Science—Cal State. Long Beach, CA


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