White Paper – Joe Mleczko

White Paper: Affirmative Action and its “Effectiveness”

THE TOPIC BACKGROUND: AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:

The Affirmative Action Act was initially signed by John F. Kennedy on March 6, 1961. Its purpose was to lead the United States of America towards being a “discrimination free” nation. In the years to come policies advocating hiring without regard to race, religion and gender came out of the nation’s capital. For its time,  Affirmative Action, it did what it was supposed to. Providing minorities with employment and acceptance to universities was the main goal. This was achieved through the use of quotas.

The quota system, which is still used today, ensures that in any establishment with open positions (whether it be a place of employment or one of higher learning), everyone is represented and has an equal opportunity to acquire that position(s). Therefore, these places are supposed to have certain amounts of different kinds of people.

When Affirmative Action was created, the nation was blanketed in racial tension. This racial tension needed to be addressed by the government, and the policies of Affirmative Action were the result.

EFFECTIVENESS OF THE POLICIES:

The ability of Affirmative Action to achieve greater parity in hiring is not disputed. In fact the “over action” of affirmative action is what many have problems with. Since its creation, positions have been filled by people of all sorts of backgrounds, from different races to different genders. However, this is where the complaints start. Now that employers and colleges are required to fill “racial quotas,” there have been many reported cases in which less qualified individuals have been chosen over more qualified individuals in an attempt to satisfy the affirmative action policies. And now the counterintuitive aspect of affirmative action surfaces…

COUNTERINTUTIVITY NOTE: 

The initial need for affirmative action was spawned by the discrimination that ran the country. That means that the purpose of affirmative action was to eliminate discrimination. Unfortunately, many years later, affirmative action is causing the discrimination it once looked to destroy, but in the reverse. As a specific example, there was court case in which a student sued the University of Michigan for being denied based on her race. In short, the number of caucasians to be accepted for the term had been met, so even though she was well qualified for the position she was rejected acceptance. Instead the seat was given to a minority that the school needed to fill a quota. The term reverse discrimination was created to explain this occurrence. Instead of being denied because she was white, she was denied because she wasn’t a minority. Thus, discrimination is still in existence!

RESULTS OF REVERSE DISCRIMINATION: UNFAIR ACCUSATIONS

In the University of Michigan case, someone in the admissions office had to deny the girl a seat in the class. That unknown person, perhaps a black man, perhaps a white woman, was unfairly accused of racism against caucasians for correctly following mandated affirmative action policies. Energy wasted on attacking the person who implements the policy should be directed instead towards changing the policies to benefit everyone equally, not just minorities.

RESULTS OF REVERSE DISCRIMINATION: INCREASED RACIAL TENSION

In a source that can be found in my proposal post (number 5), racial tension that comes from reverse discrimination is outlined. The basic idea is that when people know they are rejected because a minority is needed to fill a quota, they might in return begin to dislike the minority that got the position instead. This can be the beginning of racist feelings that would never have came to be without affirmative action. In today’s society, being racist is not the “social norm” like it was when affirmative action was created. However, just like the paragraph above, animosity is directed at the wrong individuals. This time it is the alternative recipient of the position and not the one offering the position. In both cases this negative energy could be used to do something about what they find to be unfair on a political level.

OTHER NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:

Reverse discrimination is only one negative aspect of affirmative action. In reality there are negative effects that affect even the minorities that the policies defend. In work environments it is common for minorities to be looked upon as inferiors by coworkers who believe they only got the position because of race quotas (of course not everyone feels this way). Unfortunately, the policies of affirmative action can also demean minority achievement. Of course many of these achievements came from hard work but it is common to see people discounting that work, claiming it was only done with the help of affirmative action. This of course was not a wanted result of affirmative action, but through the years, these suspicions have surfaced. I do believe that the end of affirmative action would certainly bring the necessary admiration for achievement in the minority communities. 

Another negative side effect of affirmative action is the lowering of standards for minorities. For example, if the normal accepted GPA of Rowan University is 3.3 (I chose this arbitrarily) but a minority can get into the school with a 2.8, that student might not be as determined to succeed. Of course the standards of a university are gauged according to the work that will be part of the schooling, so someone admitted with a lower GPA may struggle with the workload to come. 

Lastly (at least for this white paper, for now), is how incredibly hard removing the policies of affirmative action would be. Since many do depend on the laws set up through affirmative action, it would be virtually impossible to eliminate them from society. This leads me to my proposal…

PROPOSAL FOR THE FUTURE:

Obviously in the United States the affirmative action policies are based on race and gender. This forces us to acknowledge the differences in people, and make decisions based on those differences. Personally, I believe the policies should be based on economic standing. In France, for example, economic class is what determines how much representation an individual receives. This ensures all underprivileged people are helped, instead of just those that are minorities.

THOSE WHO BACK AFFIRMATIVE ACTION

I realize that in order to support my claims I will have to refute what the competition believes in an academic manner. Many that believe the policies of affirmative action do more good than bad. I, on the other hand, hope to prove the opposite through all of the topics listed above, and possibly more?

TOPICS FOR SMALLER PAPERS:

My overall topic out of the many negative effects of affirmative action is the reverse discriminating aspect. It would make sense that the first small paper be a definitional claim paper to set up later papers. That way I can introduce the topic and inform my reader. I would also like to write a proposal claim paper, where I would talk about implementing a system like the French. If any of these ideas end up not working out, an evaluation/comparison claim paper can also be written, where the United States system would be evaluated and compared to that of the French.

CURRENT STATE OF THE RESEARCH PAPER:

At the moment, I have only done research, the proposal, and now the white paper. However, as I have thought about this paper I have written ideas on how to organize and present my information. Just like this white paper, the research paper and overall conclusions to be drawn are all works in progress. I plan to begin writing as soon as I get a good amount of approval from this white paper.

Even while I write I will continue to read on the subject, and “tweak” my paper as necessary. For example, I need to do more research on those that back affirmative action. That research could yield a completely different view of affirmative action as a whole…

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3 Responses to White Paper – Joe Mleczko

  1. davidbdale says:

    After writing copious notes, I’ve come back to the top of the page to praise you, Joe, for doing a fine job on your White Paper. You’ve covered topics with the right amount of detail and support, and you’ve taken clear positions on most of them while at the same time remaining open to the possibility of new information. That’s not wishy-washy; it’s flexible. Wishy-washy is declining to decide. Flexible is deciding but provisionally.

    My reactions to specific sections while reading:

    Joe, as I read through the paper, I’m happy to see you’ve identified a pattern of misdirected animosity. Such a finding gives you a chance to separate understandable anger from thoughtless prejudice. It honors the feelings of those who feel deprived without losing sight of their poor choice of targets. Both sides in an argument always want justice. What they believe to be just is usually what’s in contention.

    In your “Other Negative Effects” section, while I don’t discount your examples of workplace grievances, I wonder if you’re suggesting a change to federal legislation to avoid misconstrued conclusions of favoritism in the workplace. Did AA create the suspicion about dubious hires for people who doubt the capabilities of minorities? Will the disgruntled suddenly gain admiration for minority workers if AA ends?

    I don’t think you mean 3.3 is totally arbitrary. I think you mean you chose it arbitrarily. In the same paragraph, you’ve drawn a very dangerous conclusion about GPA and determination.

    Your proposal is extremely enlightened. It does more in one quick move to eliminate accidents of discrimination (like giving a scholarship to Charlize Theron because, as an immigrant from South Africa, she’s a certified African-American) than any policy I can come up with at the moment.

    There will be problems left behind, of course, as long as we not only value diversity but attempt to achieve it through hiring or admissions. Even without AA, most colleges market themselves with claims that a diverse student population will offer students a broader educational experience by exposing them to cultural variations and viewpoints. If admissions favor diversity in the absence of AA mandates, real or perceived injustices will persist.

    There is, of course, also the problem of determining class. You can decide for yourself how to handle this. Perhaps the French have a model you can analyze.

    A Definition paper on reverse discrimination does sound like the natural choice. Are you considering starting at the beginning, as you have here, with the U of M case? If so, a close reading of the finding of the court in that case would be very helpful. Following that decision from the judiciary to the legislation it engendered could be instructive too. Is the law well-designed to curtail the injustice the court found? Little bits of language make all the difference in the law. What does the first AA law specifically say?

    I do think a proposal essay could be done well in 1000 words or so, at the level of support usually provided in an Op-Ed piece. I know you’re familiar with these. It could take the background for granted and focus on the necessity for reform plus a solution.

    You’re off to a beautiful start, Joe. And as always, I’m delighted you posted early. I’d be happy if your classmates considered this WP a model, not to imitate section-by-section, but to guide them as they organize their own material into whatever categories work best.

    I remember quite well that I advised you to spend your time organizing and presenting material, and not to worry whether your thoughts were expressed elegantly. So I offer these grammar and syntax notes in the spirit of helpfulness, not critique:

    Little things to be helpful, some of them quite important:

    • The Affirmative Action Act was initially signed . . .
    • For its time, Affirmative Action did . . .
    • Rule 5 (please get this one): These places are supposed to hire certain numbers of different kinds of people.
    • When Affirmative Action was created, the nation . . .
    • All results ensue. The policies were the result.
    • The ability of Affirmative Action (to achieve greater parity in hiring?)
    • Rule 4 (please get this one too): When a person knows he was rejected. OR: When people know they have been rejected.
    • A simple fix that avoids the need to explain later: In work environments it is common for minorities to be looked upon as inferiors BY coworkers WHO believe they only got the position because of race quotas.
    • You do this one a lot. Eliminate a “there are” and fix a pronoun that calls a person “that” with one correction: Since many do depend on the laws . . .
    • Another example: . . . all underprivileged people are helped, instead of just minorities.
    • Another example: . . . many believe the policies of affirmative action do more good than bad.
    • This one’s tricky: . . . through all of (and possibly more) the topics listed above? No. through all (and possibly more) of the topics listed above? No. through all of the topics listed above, and possibly more?
    • . . . the white paper . . . research . . . and conclusions are all WORKS in progress.
    • . . . those WHO back affirmative action. Or avoid the people altogether: I need to research support for affirmative action. Or not: I need to research the arguments of affirmative action supporters.
    • Instead of: In the University of Michigan case, there was someone in the admissions office that had to make the decision to eliminate the girl from the running for a seat in the class.
      Eliminate the “there was.”:Someone in the University of Michigan admissions office had to deny the girl a seat in the class.
    • Instead of: Unfortunately for that person, he/she was accused of being racist against caucasians (if the person was caucasian too). Now this is unfair because it draws negative attention to someone that was simply following the policies set forth by the government under affirmative action.
      You might need people: That unknown person, perhaps a black man, perhaps a white woman, was unfairly accused of racism against caucasians for correctly following mandated affirmative action policies.
    • Instead of: Instead of directing animosity towards any person that makes a decision based on policies they have no control over, the attention should be directed towards changing the policies to benefit more than just minorities.
      Don’t mix your passives and actives: Energy wasted on attacking the person who implements the policy should be directed instead towards changing the policies to benefit everyone equally, not just minorities.
  2. joeymleczko says:

    Thanks, Professor! I really do appreciate all the time you put into making my work better!

  3. davidbdale says:

    Of course you’re welcome, Joe. I think we’ve negotiated a good relationship that benefits us both.

    One more note about numbers and amounts and types and kinds, if you don’t mind. In general, eliminate as many as you can. (I could have said: eliminate as many kinds of them as you can, but I didn’t.) They’re almost always unnecessary and create syntax problems.

    In your paragraph about quotas, mandated or casual, you have to mention types of people; the whole point of the topic is categorizing people into types. But you still have to respect Rule 5 by numbering people, not lumping them as amounts of people. So, instead of:

    Therefore, these places are supposed to have certain amounts of different kinds of people.

    It would help to rephrase as:

    Therefore, these places are supposed to have certain numbers of people of different kinds.

    Helpful?

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