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Poll: Do you support affirmative action?

No, it's not fair to "majorities" who work hard. 13 (16%)
Yes, minorities are discriminated against and need help. 18 (22%)
I'm not touching this one with a 10 foot pole. 50 (62%)
   Discussion: Do you support affirmative action?
beth-pseudocanuck! · 19 years, 7 months ago

finally!!!! and i'm definitely of the "10 foot pole" persuasion. big controversy at UNH about this recently. i'll go see if i can find the article...

here's one piece of the controversy.

lawrence · 19 years, 7 months ago
it's not that it's not fair to "majorities" who work hard, it's not really fair to anyone who works hard, because the criteria used to accept a person are no longer based on their ability to do a job or do well at a particular school.

what affirmative action should be is a system used to get more opportunities to people who might not otherwise even apply. it shouldn't guarantee that people will get jobs or get into schools, but a lot of people don't even know the options are there. and I do support any effort made by companies and schools to get a more diverse group of applicants. then make the final decisions without seeing any demographic information about the candidates. (often hard if an interview is involved)

I don't know what, if any, would be a better solution. but making any decisions based on race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc, whether "positive" or negative, is wrong.
Sally · 19 years, 7 months ago

I just got done conducting a survey at my school about affirmative action.

I saw this question and wondered if my college called anyone who could have inspired this question :)


Josh Woodward Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
What were the results of the survey?
Sally Back · 19 years, 7 months ago

I'm not sure if they're entirely accurate.  I mean, it's a laid back job and osme of the surveys get doctored when we're on breaks and don't feel like calling people. 

But!  When the results are in, they'll be here

The job is insanely easy yet frustrating at the same time when people don't want to answer surveys or feel like giving us a hard time.  My friend Laura is spoofing it in her cabaret act on Thursday night.


trunger is counting... · 19 years, 7 months ago
Gordondon son of Ethelred · 19 years, 7 months ago
I was just working on this because of the pending supreme court cases. I was going to make it a diary entry but i"ll put it here. It's just a simple numbers game. I picked these numbers out of the air because they made the numbers easy but it demonstrates the point.

Let's say that there was a minority that constituted 10% of the population and controlled 5% of the businesses. Not that far off from the truth. Further assume that there is a 5% unemployment rate and that 78% of the majority was totally color blind and that the other 22% hired only 5% of it's workforce from the minority. Then that all the minority employers hire 20% minority. What would the effect be?

The unempolyment rate for the minority would be 15%, three times the fair rate. For the majority it would be about 4%. No matter how you juggle the numbers you find the effect on the majority isn't that large and the effect on the minority is huge. Affirmative action helps correct that imbalance. Something has to. It is almost impossible to prove that any individual is descriminating, if you want to make a real difference in the numbers direct action must be taken on a large scale.

Yes affirmative action is unfair. But it isn't as unfair as not having it. And without it the burden all rests on the minority.
no one Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Amen to that, Gordon. Here is a non - mathematical perspective on the same topic.

Yes, affirmative action is unfair, but it starts with one's upbringing. It begins with being born with an anglo-saxon appearance and into a supportive middle class mileu and continues when one is helped to become a member of an "old boy's network."

If hard work was the sole criterion for advancing along some hierarchy, there'd be a lot of domestic cleaners working very long hours for next to nothing and even more mothers working even more hours for even less in very enviable positions, while negligent, incompetent or fraudulent CEOs would finish up sweeping streets instead of receiving the "golden parachute."

Affirmative action, in the context of this poll, is a bit of a misnomer. It should be called: "belated support" because many people miss out on opportunities, not for an unwillingness to work hard, but because their background hobbled them in the first place. That background might be being a woman, black, in a wheelchair, or any number of other handicapping environments.

Yes, there are women, blacks and cripples deservedly in exalted positions, but to use this as proof that hard work is the sole criterion for advancement, is missing the point. Many more miss out because their starting blocks have been pegged way behind others, not for their unwillingness to work hard, but where they come from. Many more have never even been given the background to be able to work hard. The land of freedom is not the same as the land of equal opportunity.
Melinda J. Beasi Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Here's my very over-simplified version:

Our society has clear biases that reduce the opportunity for certain members of the society through a number of means (and have been doing so for so many years that in some cases the damage is irreparable, and will remain so for some time). Until those biases (and the damage they have done) are gone, we need affirmative action to attempt to counteract them. I do not think affirmative action is a wonderful thing. In an ideal society (or even a closer-to-ideal society) it would not be required. We are very far from that at this point. Until we can fix what is broken in our society, I think we need affirmative action.
Jºnªthªn · 19 years, 7 months ago
On of the criteria used for judging applicants in the University of Michgan process is legacy students. One can easily imagine a case where there a school population had previously been exclusively white. Were race not considered in their admissions, of two "equally qualified" students, the white legacy student would be chosen.

The supreme court has already said race can be considered in admissions. In Bakke the Court upheld the constitutionality of considering race and ethnicity as factors in university admissions: [A] State has a substantial interest that legitimately may be served by a properly devised admissions program involving the competitive consideration of race and ethnic origin." Quotas are not legal however, and the Michigan case is largely based on the theory that their system amounts to quotas.

Erica: movin' to Ohio!! · 19 years, 7 months ago
behold my superior pole and my ability to skirt issues!!! my point being, no one is ever going to agree on anything and we're all fucked!!! so why bother with issues? btw- i love billy west!
Josh Woodward · 19 years, 7 months ago
This is one I feel fairly strongly about. First off, I support the right of a company or other entity to use affirmative action if they choose. But they also have the right to hire anyone they want. A company should never be forced to hire someone with less merit than another person in order to fill a quota.

Yes, I agree that blacks growing up in poor neighborhoods in bad public school districts are at a disadvantage. But it's not just blacks that live in this neighborhood, it's all races including white, and all of them are equally disadvantaged. Yet the policies are based on the color of your skin such that a black guy in Beverly Hills gets special treatment, but a white guy from Compton is discriminated against by affirmative action.

Affirmative action is a racist policy. It sends the message to minorities that "we know you don't deserve this job as much as this white guy, but we'll help you by tilting the tables." Companies aren't stupid. They want to make money. If the hispanic guy is more qualified to help them do so, they'll hire him. They can't afford not to in these economic times.

nate... Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
I agree completely.

It's racism, pure and simple.

Nobody should be given different treament, either for OR against, based on their race..... everyone should be judged on the basis of their personal merits as a HUMAN. That is it.

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Do you think that's the case? I doubt it. The question is what to do about the fact that it isn't true.
nate... Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Do I think what's the case? That AA is racist? Yes, absolutely! People should never be judged on their race.
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Why does anything have to be done about it?

You do more harm when you try to force people to conform to YOUR ideas of fairness and political correctness.
Arbie Back · 19 years, 7 months ago

Heh heh. Funny how I don't think of AA as a black/white issue. Maybe because I am not American, I dunno. Around here it is more an issue of male and female hiring/promotion practices. Of course, it is more than that too. Pay equity is part of the issue.

Just a small note, gotta run, supposed to be working, don't wanna be replaced by a woman ;-)

nate... Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
because i actually care about other people.

It is easy to say that you are doing more harm than good but you offer no evidence for it.

By your argument nothing should be illegal. I should be able to kill somebody. Why should I have to conform to YOUR idea of what's right and wrong?
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
You certainly take a huge leap to go from what I said specifically about "discrimination" to saying by my argument nothing should be illegal.

I'll turn your question around, why should I have to confirm to YOUR idea of what's right and wrong? That's an assinine question.

What wrong is if someone violates the rights of another person (which killing someone definitely does). Simply denying someone a job because you don't like [fill in the blank] about them, does not violate their rights. Noone has a RIGHT to a job.

Businesses and school and everyone should be free to set their own standards for doing business or accepting students.
lawrence Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Businesses and school and everyone should be free to set their own standards for doing business or accepting students.

well, I'm not sure I'd go that far in a generalization - the standards should be based on merit only, and I think that there should be legal requirements that things like race, religion, gender, and sexual orientation NOT be considered. at all. anti-discrimination laws are ok, but preferential treatment and quotas are not.
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
What about a Christian seminary or Jewish synagogue. Should they be forced to accept athiests?

Should a men's only privately owned country club be forced allow women as members?

If one school discriminates based on any of the above, it immediately opens an opportunity for other schools to get their business. Any school or business which discriminated against a certain segment of society based on whatever criteria would not last long-term (especially if such discrimination was generally not viewed favorably by society at large).
lawrence Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
well, it really does depend on what the qualifications for the job are - if a religious institution wants to hire staff for non-religious functions, then yes, they should be required to base the hiring on criteria not related to religion. obviously, they shouldn't be forced to accept an atheist to say, teach religion in their school.

country club membership is very different from public education. keep in mind that the case that started this whole thing was at the University of Michigan, a publicly funded university. and I'm sure you're going to pick up on that and start ranting against public universities, too.

schools are not businesses. or rather, they shouldn't be. but I don't expect you to agree with that.
dirty life & times Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
starfox, do you think people have a right to an education? if so, what sort?
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
You do not have a right to an education.

Since housing, education, jobs, etc, must be provided by others and there can be no right to another person's labor or property therefore you have no fundamental right to those things.
dirty life & times Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
but if you have a right to your life, & your life has to be protected, say?
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
I'm not sure exactly what your point is?
Gordondon son of Ethelred · 19 years, 7 months ago
When people are hiring, deciding who should be accepted into schools, etc they almost always use subjective criteria in addition to objective ones. You pick the people you like, the people you can relate to. Even if you totally agree in the equality of the races and sexes all to often that means picking the people most like yourself.

Secondly, having connections is always important, it's not what you know it's who you know. You can even become president that way. The groups with the power have an inherent advantage.

The so called objective criteria are biased too.

So minorities and women get it from both ends.
Josh Woodward Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Then, should black-owned businesses be forced to hire a certain number of white people?
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
And what's wrong with someone hiring based on subjective criteria?

The simple fact is the free market will dictate who a business will hire. Yes, there will be some businesses who discriminate against some minorities. However, their business may suffer as a result. Take the construction business, if you discriminated against Hispanics, your business would fail. That's because Hispanics make some of the best carpenters, brick layers, and framers out there. Because of their abilities and values, they do well in those fields of work. No construction company in their right mind would ever discriminate against hispanics.

The simple fact is, you have no right to a job.
Melinda J. Beasi Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Okay, forgive me for saying so, but this type of thinking is exactly the problem. How many Hispanics can't get into fields like law and medicine because there is some big old white guy in a suit thinking "He'd make a great construction worker"? Y'know, "Because of their abilities and values, they do well in those fields of work." This is what they are up against.

I'm begging you to clarify this, and explain that it is not at all what you meant.
Starfox Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
It was just a specific example. I dunno about you, but here in Texas, we do have Hispanic doctors and lawyers. Hell, the Democratic candidate for governor last election was a banker.

My point was that to discriminate in employment is not good business. I was just using the example of construction workers and hispanics as an illustration.

Besides, many hispanics I know *LIKE* construction work. And some that I know are using it as a means to provide for a better future for their kids.
Starfox · 19 years, 7 months ago
Affirmative action is totally wrong. It is based on a favorite tactic that liberals like to do, and that is view people according to their group status, rather than as individuals.

So, a straight A student should be shut out of his opportunity because a "disadvantaged [fill in your ethnic group here] C student" got the nod because of affirmative action?

There are countless examples of people who liberals and thier ilk would term "disadvantaged" but who have worked and fought and overcome adversity based on their own individual effort. Colin Powell and Clarence Thomas are a couple of the biggest examples I can think of.

If I were one of those "disadvantaged minorities" I would be offended if someone offerred me aid based soley on my ethnic background.

Nothing in life is free. If you give something to one person via favortism (such as affirmative action), then you take it away from someone else.
Lisa Kay · 19 years, 7 months ago

I am a girl who probably got accepted into an engineering college more easily than a man, simply becuase I'm a woman. I don't know for sure (and I still had good grades blah blah blah) but I'll always wonder if I was accepted for my merit or my breasts (not to be crass, or anything)

Am I ok with that? ...sometimes, not really. I think the AA system was put in a place in a time when people where blatant discrimination was common and qualified minorities weren't getting jobs because the 'white men' in power were corrupt. I don't think most businesses function that way anymore. I do think the free market greed will drive almost all employers (or the ones who want to continue being in business) to hire the most qualified people for a job. Having quotas as a requirement is destructive to making the best business decisions. I think as our society evolves there is less need for businesses to need incentive (or requirements) to hire minorities.  There will always be racism and sexism but there is definitely less than when AA was brought into law and there continues to be less as time goes on. and this isn't always easy from the minorities perspective because reflecting on acceptance into college I have to remind myself that I'm as good an engineer as any of my male classmates , even if being a woman helped me get into school (and will help get me a job)

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
You were also probably discrimiated against. I see it in other professors. They don't treat the women as seriously as they do the men. When I was in college a physics professor asked m friend, a physics major, Why are you taking physics? Just marry a rich man. Gah. Another professor used to engage me all the time, he was one of my best profs. He pretty much ignored her. She was at the same school with the same prof but she didn't get the same education.
Josh Woodward Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Yeah, but could women even vote when you were in college?

Sorry, you set yourself up for that one ;-)

Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Men couldn't vote, we had a king then.
Lisa Kay Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
*laugh* yes, of course I dealt with discrimination, but that's going to be there regardless. It's whether or not I doubt the validity of my acceptance knowing that AA helped. Ideally the descrimination will diminish as AA is less necessary and used. a nice inverse relationship.
Rachel Beck · 19 years, 7 months ago
One thing I wonder is whether there might be a system that would take economic background into account. Penalizing students, regardless of race, for growing up in poor neighborhoods and attending underfunded schools has never seemed sensible to me.
Gordondon son of Ethelred · 19 years, 7 months ago
People always talk about hiring less qualified minorities or women. I hope you realize this implies that you think that they are inferior. The point of affirmative action is to make sure that less qualified majority males don't get the jobs and positions over women and minorities. The so called objective criteria aren't objective, they all have cultural and gender biases (my sister has three). There is a reason that successful companies and universities are fighting for AA, they feel it helps them get better people.
Josh Woodward Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
> There is a reason that successful companies and universities are
> fighting for AA

Why would any business or college "fight for AA"? They already have the right to set minority quotas if they wish to.

And yes, there are always plenty of qualified minorities and majorities in the world for a given job. It's not always as easy to actually find them, however. Try having a technology company in northwest ohio. You'd be hard pressed to find a single minority applicant, let alone a qualified one. Businesses should be allowed to choose the most qualified individual for a job. And almost all companies will -- whether or not it's a white guy. It would be economically stupid not to.

By forcing a company to hire a certain percentage of minorities, you are the one saying they are inferior. You are saying that they deserve a certain job because of the color of their skin or the lack of a penis, regardless of their qualifications.

lawrence Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
if there are quotas, then at some point, you'll end up hiring a less qualified person over a more qualified person.

you fill up your slots for men with the Y best men for those position. now you have X slots for women. and there are say, X-5 extremely qualified women - who, if things were done without taking gender into account at all, would be interspersed with the men you already hired in terms of qualifications - i.e. all the men and women so far would be in the top Y+X-5.

now you have 5 more slots to fill, and a pool of women and a pool of men to choose from. but you MUST hire 5 more women, regardless of how qualified the next 5 men in line are. at that point, you end up hring just on the basis of gender, and you're not even taking their qualifications into account at all.

how is that fair?
Josh Woodward Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
And in the sex issue, certain fields simply have more qualified people of one sex than another. For instance, technology. In my department in college, guys outnumbered girls by at least 3:1. And I suspect that's a common number.

And it's not that males are smarter than females. If anything, I give females credit for being smart enough not to be involved in this. *grins*

nate... Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
People always talk about hiring less qualified minorities or women. I hope you realize this implies that you think that they are inferior.

I have NO idea what you're trying to say here.

If someone is less qualified for a given position, then yes, they are "inferior" for that position... and that person might just as easily be a white male.
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
I'm trying so hard to resist making a comment about being qualifed to understand.

In virtually every lucrative field except for sports, minorities are hired less frequently then whites. Is your conclusion that they are really less qualified or that there is discrimination. Or do you have a third option?

To deny that there is discrimination going on is willful blindness. Once again the question for those who care about fairness is what do you do about it.
lawrence Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
To deny that there is discrimination going on is willful blindness. Once again the question for those who care about fairness is what do you do about it.

and to suggest that forced discriminiation and quotas are the way to fix it is ridiculous.
nate... Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
Exactly. I find your suggestion that we fight discrimination with discrimination to be odious!

Since when do two wrongs make a right?
Gordondon son of Ethelred Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
In other words you are saying. "Lets let Them pay the price of discrimination not me."
lawrence Back · 19 years, 7 months ago
no, but I think we're giving employers and college admissions staff more credit than you're willing to. you're assuming everyone will discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. and from that assumption, you are concluding that even those who would NOT discriminate should now be forced to.

how does that make things right? how does it even come close to making things right? you would prefer race and gender quotas to simply hiring the top X most qualified people, regardless of their race or gender.

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