Affirmative Action, as defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is distinguishable as the “positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and culture from which they have been historically excluded. ” Accordingly, the ‘fairness’ of Affirmative Action principles has repeatedly been called into question, not just within the United States, but global as well. These arguments for and against Affirmative Action and its subsequent principles are in constant debate, both morally and politically. These debates often mirror those of academics, both for and against-those arguing for the need of Affirmative action and its positive effect on social unity and distributive justice, and those arguing upon political principle, often referencing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, quoting Title VI and Title VII.
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Throughout history, Affirmative Action principles and subsequent political literature and court rulings have been identified as a process or evolution-definitional, in a sense, by local and federal court systems. In less than a decade after the creation and ratification of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Supreme Court contributed heavily to the molding of Affirmative Action and its principles . In short, the Supreme Court ruled that all institutions would need to assess or reassess their institutional practice and policies related to the “exclusionary practice not necessary to an institution’s activities” . This ruling gave a definitional meaning to Affirmative Action that had been lacking previously. It gave distinctiveness to the main role and principle behind Affirmative Action that stated the purpose of which was to not necessarily compensate for past occurrences of unjustness, but rather to direct compliance with nondiscrimination as defined by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
This paper aims to call into question Nebraska Initiative 424 and the possible snowball effects it might have on private and public academic discrimination, both locally and nationally. In the election of 2008, the state of Nebraska voted (58%) to effectively ban Affirmative Action at the state governmental level, prohibiting the state from granting Affirmative Action principles to “prohibit the state from discriminating against, or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting” , .
Several arguments in favor of the initiative have been put into place and are ongoing including those identifying the anti-discriminatory laws supposedly favoring racial preferences having the same discrimination-like effects that their very role was designed to incapacitate . Other constituents argued that Affirmative Action principles in the state of Nebraska explicitly understated the state’s motto: “Equality Before the Law.” Several more arguments ensued including the undermining of minority achievement, causes a “mismatch effect” of qualified and underqualified students in higher education, and the lowering of statewide standards in a multitude of private and public settings .
When discussing Affirmative Action principles, it is difficult to view the objectivity of the arguments for and against them and the government regulations related to them; however, Affirmative Action principles are existent and have been presented in such a manner that cannot be understated. It is necessary to break stereotypes, providing new opportunities and introductions to undiscovered possibilities for minorities, gives the needed boost for disadvantaged students to succeed as they rightfully should both in education and the workplace, increase and maintain minority enrollment in higher education, and provide cultural diversity that the United States, the ‘World’s Melting Pot,’ was built upon. Nebraska Initiative 424 is part of a general push against Affirmative Action. This has been seen in many other states including California, Texas, Washington, and Michigan. In fact, of the 8 states that have set in place amendments similar to that of Nebraska Initiative 424, a total of 29% of the learning population resides in them .
So why should Affirmative Action principles remain in place and be the standard bearer of civil liberties and rights? Affirmative Action promotes equality. It basically states that guidelines and steps must be taken to guarantee equal opportunity in the workplace and in education. Attempting to create an even playing field does not mean that Affirmative Action is ‘anti-white’ or ‘anti-male.’ This is a misnomer or misinterpretation of the roles of Affirmative Action. The role that Affirmative Action plays, has played, and should continue to always play is the dismantling of discriminatory practicing through increased representation, improved equality and access, and equal opportunity at every age. Affirmative Action does not ‘pull down,’ but rather ‘builds up.’
First, take the impact of the banning of Affirmative Action through amendments like Nebraska’s Nebraska Initiative 424. In a 2014 study on the “Changes in Levels of Affirmative Action in College Admissions in Response to Statewide Bans and Judicial Rulings” by G. Blume and M. Long, it was identified that the “decline in affirmative actionâ€¦affects not only students in these states but also those students who live in adjacent states, particularly when the adjacent states lack highly selective colleges” . The study analyzed the “extent to which universities changed the weight placed directly on the applicant being a minority” . The extent to which minorities were affected in terms of acceptance in the banned Affirmative Action states was much more than that in other states (a 23% drop in minority admission v. 1% drop in other states) .
The importance of understanding racial diversity falls upon the educational system, but has a fundamental basis in employment as well. This is because workplace behavior has a broader range of perspective viewpoints for analyzing Affirmative Action-related outcomes. F. Kurtulus found that Affirmative Action ban within some states resulted in declines in Asian and Black female and Hispanic male representation (this data was representative of minorities employed in state and local governments) . Although objectively understanding the changes is still vitally important, as it was observed the drastic change in Asian female representation was limited to the first year of implementation due to the small number of Asian females in legislative and governmental roles . The paper summarizes a significant loss in workplace diversity, directly contradicting opposition to Affirmative Action. This data can be expected to be somewhat related to that of which is seen in academia.
Secondly, the relevance of racial diversity, or lack thereof, in medical school matriculation should be one of importance to the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The “statewide laws banning the consideration of race in postsecondary admissions pose serious obstacles for the medical profession to address the health-care crisis facing the nation” . The overall percentage of racial minority representation in the medical field falls below that of what should be expected. Roughly half as many African Americans and Latinos are represented within medicine than should really be. Accordingly, it equates to a 17.2% decline in the first time matriculation of underrepresented student populations in public medical schools . It is feared that the decline in the number of minorities populating medical schools will further exacerbate the already present shortage of physicians, especially in heavily populated minority communities. The answer to which is unclear for states that have effectively banned Affirmative Action principles. The needed compensation for such lack of representation needs to be answered as the physician shortage only increases and underserved communities face the most difficult of challenges.
Finally, there is the underlying responsibility for racial disparity, both globally and locally. In universities from states that have adopted Affirmative Action-related bans or amendments with anti-Affirmative Action-related language, sufficient differences in matriculation and enrollment have occurred. Accordingly, K. West-Faulcon writes that racial disparities in admissions rates for universities that have undergone state-litigated anti-Affirmative Action principles changes in admissions, could be deemed unsatisfactory within federal regulation standards and thus be liable in future cases taken up against these universities . This implies possible future avenues that could be reached for universities to bypass state level anti-Affirmative Action laws and regulations . Which in and of itself shows that the evolution of Affirmative Action principles go both ways, but nonetheless are very much still needed in this day and age.
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