Essay, Research Paper
The More Diverse Campus is the Better Things are for Everyone
Affirmative Action in the University of Oregon
Affirmative Action was created to give minorities a better chance of
obtaining employment. That is the tradition definition of Affirmative Action,
but the University of Oregon admissions office has adopted a new definition of
Affirmative Action. With their definition, no one who isn?t qualified is
admitted to the U of O and, in turn, every one who is qualified is accepted.
Affirmative Action should be maintained in the University of Oregon because it
offers more opportunities for diversity.
The University of Oregon admissions office defines Affirmative Action as
a group of programs established to help out female students and students who are
of minority races. Some of these programs deal with promoting the University of
Oregon to minorities and women. There are several recruitment activities to
promote the U of O, including ?Gateway to the Future,? a program that exposes
high school students of color to higher education opportunities at the
University of Oregon. There is also a similar program called ?Reach for Success?
aimed towards middle-school students. There are several other programs of this
sort offered at the University of Oregon that reach out to people of color and
also to people who are underprivileged that are looking for ways to higher their
education. Is this a fair new way to define Affirmative Action?
In my search for the answer to the ever-pondered question ?Does
Affirmative Action promote unfair advantages to minorities and women?? I came
across two men. One of these men was the Senior Assistant Director at the Office
of Admissions for the University of Oregon, Randell Hernandez. The other was the
Human Rights Investigator for Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity at the
University of Oregon, Sidney Moore. I talked to these men about Affirmative
Action and how it affects admissions at the University of Oregon. The main thing
that both of them pointed out to me was that every student that attends the
University of Oregon was accepted on the same criteria and standards. There are
no preferences given to minorities. How could that be discrimination?
People think that because Affirmative Action gives special attention to
minorities and women that it gives them special rights, but it doesn?t, it only
offers them support. There are several special organizations on campus set up
for women and minorities. These organization give people a place to go when the
need someone to talk to, or just somewhere to feel at home.
Many people think that the Affirmative Action gives an unfair advantage to women
and minorities when it comes to obtaining employment, and being granted
admission to schools. That is of the most popular misconceptions of Affirmative
Action. These misconceptions are mainly derived from different types of the
media. One example I can think of is an episode of ER, in this episode one of
the doctors finds out that he was hired through the Affirmative Action. He
proceeds to get mad because a medical student that he interviewed who is more
qualified than he was didn?t even get a second glance. Although in some cases,
this is how Affirmative Action works, the University of Oregon never admits
people based on their race, or their sex. Discrimination is illegal and even
though minorities are being hired over white men, this is still considered
discrimination. ?In the University of Oregon, no student that is less qualified
is granted admission over another applicant who is more quali!
fied,? says Hernandez.
The main thing that Moore talked to me about when I visited him in his
office, was that the most important part of Affirmative Action is helping out
people who have special needs, or have had hardships through their lives. An
example of this would be a student who graduated from a high school in an
extremely small town, and wanted to go to college at the University of Oregon.
Here at the U of O there are programs set up to make transitions to large
universities from small high schools easier. These students are also protected
through the Affirmative Action.
About 76% of the student body at the University of Oregon is protected
through the Affirmative Action; this includes: women, veterans (particularly of
the Vietnam War), African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian
Americans/ Pacific Islanders. There are few real advantages for students
admitted through the Affirmative Action, the one advantage I found was the
Undergraduate Support Program. This program allows disadvantaged students,
whether they are disadvantaged in financial ways, physical ways, or mental ways,
to receive special help and aid from different resources on campus. How could
something that is this positive be considered bad by anyone?
The real advantages that come into play through the Affirmative Action
are advantages that are retained by the school. Since both California and
Washington have abolished Affirmative Action in admittance systems of their
schools and universities, students of color and students with disadvantages are
more drawn to the Oregon universities. In most Oregon universities support is
offered to students like these. Another advantage is that with Affirmative
Action, the University of Oregon is more diverse and this offers a lot to all
students who attend the University. Living in or going to school with a diverse
student body offers people a better perspective of racial harmony (Hernandez).
People also get the idea that since two of the four states that border
Oregon have done away with the portion of Affirmative Action funded and enforced
by the state governments, that they are against Affirmative Action and that it
has negative factors. Moore says, though, that if the states were truly and
completely against Affirmative Action that they would abolish the federal
portion of Affirmative Action as well. In maintaining the federal portion, the
part of Affirmative Action that is funded and enforced by the federal
government, state governments please everyone. The people who are against
Affirmative Action feel satisfied because the state government has abolished
Affirmative Action. This means that there is no longer a section of the state
constitution that says anything about Affirmative Action. At the same time,
people who think Affirmative Action is a great idea are happy because the
federal portion of Affirmative Action is still around ?protecting? the women !
and people of color. As an added bonus that most common people don?t know about,
in maintaining federal Affirmative Action the state government receives
thousands of dollars a year from federal aid that goes to contracts aiding
communities. Moore says, ?If Washington and California were truly against
Affirmative Action they would abandon all forms of it, give up the money, and
deal with the people of their states. They are cowards.? Do you fall for these
With Affirmative Action there are more chances for people to become more
comfortable with diversity. ?If the 5% of people at the U of O had not been
admitted solely because of Affirmative Action, the University would be less
diverse,? states Hernandez. Without Affirmative Action people at the University
of Oregon would go through their college lives knowing little about what it is
like to live in a diverse setting. Diversity is about people?s differences.
Every person is different, and if people don?t stop to realize that, there is no
hope for a future where everyone, for the most part, gets along. Of course, all
people should be treated equally, but we also have to realize that not everyone
is the same. We have to celebrate the differences, without them this sure would
be a boring place to live. No one wants to live in a world where everyone is the
same. Diversity is one of the best things there could ever be.
?The more diverse our campus becomes, the better it will be for
everyone? (Hernandez). With these things in mind we have to look at Affirmative
Action in a new light. Do you want everyone to be the same, or do you want
diversity? Affirmative Action gives us a more diverse place to be, and being in
a diverse place lets us see that there are different types of people. This is
good. Celebrate the differences, live more diversely.
Hernandez, Randell. Personal Interview. 12 Oct. 2001
Moore, Sidney. Personal Interview. 11 Oct. 2001
Geyer, Graciela Elizabeth. Eliminating affirmative action is re-segregating
higher education. By Nic Paget-Clarke. In Motion Magazine Jul. 2001.