Affirmative Affirmative Action Affirmative Action Affirmative Action as defined as an effort to improve the employment or educational opportunities of members of minority groups or women. Many debates over whether laws that instituted Affirmative Action actually corrected discrimination in employment and education or created a new minority, the white male. In 1961 President John Kennedy made into law an executive order for Affirmative Action as a means to promote equal opportunity for racial minorities, in hiring by federal contractors. Later President Nixon beefed up the Office of Federal Compliance Programs, which along with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has become one of the governments' two main enforcers of affirmative action policy. These efforts greatly improved opportunities for minorities.
However there have been many complaints from many whites and some minorities that Affirmative Action leads to reverse discrimination. Under the Equal Opportunity Act of 1972 federal contractors, state and government institutions and state universities had to institute plans to increase the proportions of their female and minority employees and students until they are equal to the proportions existing in the labor market and school systems. In 1978 affirmative action plans that established racial quotas were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in the case of University of California vs. Bakke. This case was brought to the courts when the University of California Medical School twice rejected Allen Bakke's application while admitting members of racial minorities who had lower test scores. Bakke case was that the medical school's policy of setting aside 16 of the 100 positions for racial minorities was a violation of the 14th amendment. In a close decision the Supreme Court ordered in Bakke's favor.
The court ruled that even though universities may consider race and ethnic origins as a factor in evaluating candidates for admission, they may not establish fixed racial quotas. The University of California quickly instituted affirmative action in its admissions policies, and announced that it had one of the most diverse campuses in America. If a comparison were based on grades and test scores Asian-Americans would account for 51.6% of the freshman class. Compared with 41.7% under affirmative action. Whites under affirmative action is 29.8%, without is 34.8% to 37.3%. For Hispanic students a drop from 15.3% under affirmative action to 3 – 6% and Afro-American freshmen would account for less than 2% vice 6.4% of the freshmen.
Debate continued on the affirmative action plans with protestors addressing the successes of Asian-Americans and what they achieved without being given preferential treatment. Then on Thursday July 8, 1995, the California University System Board of Regents adopted a plan to dismantle affirmative action plans within the university system. As of January 1, 1997, the University of California system stopped using race, color, religion, sex, ethnicity, or national origin as a criterion for admission. Under the new policy considerations are given in economic or environmental disadvantages but academic eligibility is top priority. The first year after affirmative action was turned down at California University freshman admission offers to black and Hispanic students decreased by more than half to the lowest totals for each group in at least 15 years. Of the 8,000 students who were offered admission, 191 were black, down from 562 the previous year.
A total of 434 Hispanic students were offered admission, down from 1,045. The numbers are down even though more minority applications, with stronger academic credentials, were received than in previous years. Expectations were that the number of minority students who actually accept the offers to be even lower, since the students who are chosen tend to get offers from many schools. The University of California at Berkeley is one of the most selective campuses in the system.
Less than 27 percent of the nearly 30,000 students who applied for freshman classes received admissions offers. The first year without affirmative action Berkeley officials said they had to turn away more than 800 black, Hispanic and other minority applicants who had perfect 4.0 high school grade point averages and who had SAT scores of at least 1,200. Exceptionally high, but because the school had other applicants with even better credentials others were selected. The finger pointing goes back to the public school system. Figures show how badly many minority students are being prepared by the state's public schools to compete for admission at academically selective colleges. Better academic preparation is needed for everyone in K-12 grade levels.
The schools have to do a far better job in preparing students for the rigors of college starting in grade school. People against affirmative action blame affirmative action for robbing them of education, promotions and other opportunities. While many minorities and women support affirmative action, a growing number say its benefits are no longer worth the perception that their success is unearned. A survey was conducted with many women and blacks being torn over affirmative action. Two out of three women opposed affirmative action preference programs for women, compared to three out of four men. And while 52 percent of those blacks interviewed said they supported preferential programs for minorities, while 46 percent did not.
Defenders of affirmative action say that the playing field is not level yet and that granting advantages to minorities and women is more than fair. But an increasingly assertive opposition movement argues that the battle to guarantee equal rights for all citizens has been fought and won and that favoring members of one group over another simply goes against our civil rights..