Editorial: Affirmative action doesn’t belong in the equation

The proposed Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5), which aims to overturn a 1996 ruling against affirmative action in regards to college admissions, is a topic of heavy discussion among California residents. The passing of said amendment would, for lack of a better term, cause more damage to California’s educational system then it would good.

Proposition 209, the ruling responsible for the absence of affirmative action in regards to college admissions, was created for a reason. If SCA5 passes, our state’s public universities will be able to take into account the gender and ethnicity of applicants, rather than focusing entirely on their scholastic ability. While many arguments have been made in favor of SCA5, and the freedom it would give colleges during the admissions process, there are an equal number of arguments against the amendment and the changes it would bring to the post high school educational system as a whole.

Higher education is a gift and a privilege. A goal that is to be worked for, tirelessly, by those men and women who seek to continue their educations after high school. If a student’s grades are not at the level that is expected of an institution then they can attend a community college to raise their grade point average to the level required and work towards transferring to the university of their choice. To take away from the importance of a student’s academic record, and instead focus on the sex and race of that student, would be a disservice to all college students, not just the individual in question.

Rather then focusing on the gender and ethnicity of prospective college applicants, it should be the equality of high school districts that should be taken into account. A high school student from Hillsborough for example, an area of high annual income and social status, will have an education of the highest caliber because they are from a city that is financially and socially well off. On the other side of the spectrum take a student from San Bruno. While the student may be at the top of their class in that district, the quality of that education will be considered lacking in comparison to the Hillsborough student. If the California state government truly cared about the education of the states college students they would do more to seek equality of education in high school classrooms and not bring the issue of affirmative action into the equation.

How would it feel for a student, who has dedicated themselves to the goal of attending college, to be denied that reward because they are not the right gender or race? If a man, or a woman, is valedictorian of their high school, with above a 4.0 GPA and letters of reference, they should be able to attend the college of their choosing, be it public or private. The thought of a student, who has sacrificed for such a goal, to be denied their just rewards because they happen to be the wrong ethnicity, or the wrong sex, is a travesty. To think that a college would be able to deny admission to such a student for such a paltry reason boggles the mind. Imagine a college administration denying acceptance to the perfect student, simply because they have enough students of that ethnicity, or gender, enrolled at the time. Admission to college has always been competitive, and allowing students a shortcut because of the color of their skin or their gender, undermines the entire institution of higher learning.

If SCA5 passes, how long before the state decides to take into account a students religious affiliation, or their sexual preferences, in the admissions process? Will it be decided at some point that there are enough heterosexual students enrolled in California’s public colleges, and will heterosexual students be overlooked for admission and transfers? If the majority of students are Christian, be it Catholic or Protestant, will they be passed over for admission because the religious group is already densely represented in the college system? To say that there is a fundamental problem with the education in our state is the truth, but to center the blame on race or gender is unfair as well as unjust. It is too easy to cite racial inequality, and that is what our state government is doing with SCA5. Taking the easy way out. Rather than changing the college admissions process, our Senators and Governor would be better off focusing on the quality of education that our high school students are getting. If we are able to make all education equal for them, then perhaps college won’t be such a hopeless pipe dream after all.