Affirmative Action

The concept of affirmative action has taken roots deep into the earth of world ethics and norms.

Due to the increasing call for equity, fairness, and equality in all dimensions of life by various stakeholders, affirmative action has gained its position as a vital issue of concern in today’s society.

It is an ethical policy of promoting the employment and education of social groups that are vulnerable to or have suffered from one form or another of discrimination.


Various approaches are employed by countries in order to execute this concept.

The Quota system as used in India, for example, is an approach whereby a specific percentage of school vacancies, government jobs, and executive positions are reserved for are reserved for members of a certain minority group.

At other places such as the United States where the quota system is not used, vulnerable minority groups are given special treatment and consideration in selection and recruitment processes.

The focus of this article is to discuss how the discretionary approach of favoring certain groups of people especially in college admissions has an effect on the more deserving and legitimately qualified college applicants and students.


Affirmative action has been a keen subject of discussion for a while now.

Due to the absence of a clear-cut line between who minority groups are and who qualifies to be in these groups, there has been a tough debate as to whether this concept really is ethical or not.

As a result, affirmative action in the United States, for example, has been subject to political and legal controversies over the years.

Taking a reference to the roots of affirmative action when United States president elect John F. Kennedy signed the “Executive Order No. 10925”, there has been unsettled dust as to whether it has really achieved its purpose.

In the document, affirmative action was supposed to ensure that “applicants are employed, and employees are treated well during employment, without regards to their colour, race, creed or national origin”.

But has it achieved its purpose?

What standard or definition best describes equity?

Does equity applies fairly to all?.

These are questions that have not yet been answered by the blurred concept of affirmative action.


Affirmative action has been applied to the college admissions procedure and the award of scholarships for students.

This issue just as the several other issues discussed earlier has been subject to questions of purpose and effectiveness.

Clearly, affirmative action in college admissions processes is a contradiction to its own purpose.

An act that is intended to bring fairness and equity turns out to deprive a certain group of their rightful worth. In the USA, a lot of concerns has been raised for the constitutional legitimacy and ethical position of the concept.

Even though a court ruling (Grutter V. Bollinger 539, US 244) permitted affirmative action in admission processes, some states such as Washington, Michigan, and California have passed constitutional amendments to ban schools and other institutions from using it.

The ban of this act by these States lay clear testament to the adverse effect it has on students.


There is a lot of effects that affirmative action has on those more deserving of college admissions and scholarships.

Firstly, affirmative actions give room for fraudulent schools to quietly increase their quotas in order to admit more minority groups.

Such acts leave the legitimately qualified students with little room for consideration.

This turns out to affect the confidence and educational zeal of these students.

Students who should have normally gained admission turn out to be denied their chance to college due to affirmative action.

Secondly, some colleges use financial steps towards attracting racial groups with low representation and poor living conditions.

Even though this may sound pleasing at first glance, it turns out to affect other students negatively since their deserving positions would have been occupied by these minority groups.

Finally, affirmative action beneficiaries may end up suffering from “mismatching”. Mismatching is the situation whereby a college student is placed in a college that is too difficult for him/her.

When mismatching occurs, the college students have a high probability of dropping out which leaves out vacant positions that could have been occupied by qualified and more deserving and eager students.


It may be argued that affirmative action is the right way to go.

But when countries such as the UK and some states of the USA ban the use of it, question start to arise as to whether it has really achieved its purpose.

In the circles of education and most especially college admissions, affirmative action has been at fault in denying a certain class of students their rightful worth of college admission.