Affirmative Action and College Admissions: A Legal and Ethical Analysis

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Affirmative Action and College Admissions: A Legal and Ethical Analysis

I. Introduction

The institution of public education has been one of the most controversial establishments in the United States since its inception. More specifically, equality in the conditions and the opportunities it provides has been sought as one of its major goals. There is little doubt that minority ethnic groups have struggled to achieve educational equality, just as they have struggled for equality in other aspects of life. One way that minorities have tried to achieve equality in education is through lobbying for help in college admissions for their respective groups. This social practice has been debated on many grounds, including necessity and
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Proponents of affirmative action believe that it is a necessary step toward racial equality. Opponents argue on the basis of “reverse racism,” which claims that affirmative action keeps certain members of the majority ethnic group out of jobs or other positions that they deserve solely because of quotas that must be filled. The positive effects of affirmative action are the basis behind the arguments of those who support considering ethnicity and race as a part of admissions.

All of the basic principles of these contentions have spilled over into the avenue of admission standards in institutions of higher learning. The main question surrounding this issue, and the focus of this paper, is: Should college admissions consider ethnic background as a factor when admitting students? Both the supporters of separate admission standards and their opponents have strong arguments derived from many years of past struggles. The following is an analysis of the legal background surrounding the issue, as well as an investigation of the arguments of both sides of this issue.

II. The Legality of Affirmative Action in College Admissions

Although the issue of racial considerations in college admissions has evolved into very much an ethical debate, there have been many legal actions taken. The basis for all the actions is the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which says that no state shall “deny to any

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