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Affirmative Action At The University Of Oregon

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

states? scheme?

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.

1349 words

Works Cited

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.