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Students Divided Over Affirmative Action

Anne Artley |
April 23, 2014 | 2:14 p.m. PDT

Executive Producer

(Wikimedia Commons)
(Wikimedia Commons)
University of Southern California students are undecided about affirmative action in light of the Supreme Court's decision to uphold Michigan's ban on race-based admissions policies.

“I’m not particularly against it, but if it’s a decision I think it’s an okay one,” said junior Jairo Gomez. “When I was introduced to affirmative action I thought it was a good and charitable thing. But I realized it also makes people feel like their acceptance is based on the fact that they’re a minority rather than their academic worth.”

Since working with high-school kids at a youth organization, graduate student Phil Hughes said he thinks affirmative action is necessary to give everyone “a fair shake.”

“I think we’ve come a long way as a culture, but a lot of administrations I feel are a product of tradition, and if you don’t have these policies in place, certain traditions may creep back up again,” he said. “Some kids need the door opened up for them, but whether they shine is up to them.”

The Supreme Court avoided ruling directly on affirmative action last summer. It passed a case down to a lower court in which a white student challenged the admissions process at the University of Texas at Austin after the school rejected her.

Graduate student Emily Wiederholt described affirmative action as a “double-edged sword” and said there is no easy solution.

“On one hand, white people generally have more privilege, but entrance to universities should not become a game of how many colors we can put in the pot,” she said. “If admissions counselors are looking at race more than grades and accomplishments, they are doing students a disservice.” 

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