Colleges and universities are justified in considering race in admissions decisions.
Debate Rounds (5)
Second round is constructive only (no rebuttals).
Third round is constructive and rebuttals.
Fourth round is rebuttals only (no new arguments).
Fifth round is summary and impact weighing.
Please keep content organized, appropriate, and respectful. Use correct grammar and spelling. Ad hominem will not be tolerated. A forfeit means a win for the other side. I will define in the second round and set up framework.
Thanks, and good luck!
P.S. Feel free to leave constructive criticism in the comments. Voters, give reasons for your decision.
My main contentions are--
1. It promotes equality by bringing higher education for all.
2. It spreads more racial diversity.
3. It is legally justified.
Minority = Any other race besides Caucasian whites
Before I start on the argument--
What is the purpose of race admission? The purpose is to even the odds & give everybody a fair & equal chance. This is necessary because of the varying backgrounds that diverse races have. Statistically wise, certain races have a larger majority of people being less advantaged. The majority of people in these particular races are therefore forced to go to schools that aren"t as good as others, affecting their education.The purpose of race admissions is to give everybody an equal chance.This is not giving anyone a disadvantage.Colleges look at many other factors to determine admission. Race will not give certain people an advantage over others; its sole goal is to even the odds.
Now onto my contentions.
1. It promotes equality by bringing higher education for all.
Schools with mostly minority students are likely to have fewer resources, less assertive parent groups & less experienced teachers, which puts minorities at a disadvantage.
According to a 2012 Report by Department of Education & UCLA:
Minorities are twice as likely as Caucasian or Asian students to attend schools with a substantial majority of less advantaged children.
The typical minority student attends a school where almost U32; of their classmates come from low-income families.
This is why more dominant races have such a large head start. It starts all the way back in Elementary School & even Kindergarten. Because the minority students go to schools with lower level education, they don"t have as much experience as the majority students that go to high quality schools. Race admissions will give those poorer minorities a little boost so they"re at the same level as the more dominant races. Race admissions takes into account whether or not the family is poor, different upbringings, etc. so it won"t just be the RICH minorities getting in, but rather the POORER minorities.
According to the Apollo Group National Poll November 2012:
When asked what would be the most effective way to reduce the income gap between minorities & majorities, nearly 70% of all minorities chose "increasing the # of minority graduates from college", & 66% of them listed race admissions as the way to achieve it.
2. It spreads more racial diversity.
By 2050 our nation will have no clear racial or ethnic majority. Communities of color are tomorrow"s leaders, & we need to better prepare our future workforce. Colleges are the training ground for today"s graduates.
According to the Meredith Report:
Shows that the overall academic & social effects of increased racial diversity on campus are likely to be positive, ranging from higher levels of academic achievement to the improvement of near- & long-term intergroup relations.
As I said before, this proves that racial diversity not only prepares the student for later life, it actually shows scientific benefits, & race admissions would provide this!
According to a Forbes survey:
85% of respondents said diversity is crucial for their businesses
Approximately 75% indicated that their companies will put more focus during the next 3 yrs to leverage diversity to achieve their business goals.
This shows that race diversity is important & this is why we should have race admissions: it will spread racial diversity. Diversity on college campuses isn"t just a the training ground to the real world. Learning with people from a variety of backgrounds encourages collaboration & fosters innovation, thereby benefitting all students.
3. It is legally justified.
Let me reiterate the topic. It SPECIFICALLY states whether or not race admissions is JUSTIFIED, & for the purpose of this debate race admissions IS justified. It has been ruled legal by not just one, but 2 Supreme Ct. cases.
According to 1976 Bakke v. Univ. of California:
The Supreme Ct. ruled race admission constitutional & therefore legal.
It is the law of the land, & if it rules race admissions justified, you have to understand that it IS accepted & is thus justification is proven. Because of our history of discrimination, race does matter in our culture. Our communities are still highly segregated. There is a very strong correlation of segregation by race & poverty among minorities. That is why Race and Class are inseparable. Even 60 years after Brown v Board of Education, we are finding that 70% of minorities go to schools where they are the majority.
Thank you. The spotlight is now on my opponent, to whom I wish the best of luck.
Today's debate is about whether or not preferential treatment for this minority is justified and beneficial. As Con I will demonstrate that it is unjustified and detrimental to social progress.
1) Affirmative action is unjustified on grounds of meritocracy
Meritocracy is the idea that the best person for the job should get the place. It has long been established as an important principle for civilisation and progress, because it enables society to distribute good opportunities to people who can utilise them well, as well as reward people for their effort and achievements.
Affirmative action contradicts meritocracy by allowing a criterion (such as race) which is not relevant to the applicant's ability to study in the university (such as educational achievements) to influence the university's selection of students. After all, as colleges and universities are educational institutions and seek to deepen our knowledge of the world, the most relevant qualities are dedication to academia, expertise in the field, and passion for the subject. Whether or not the person is of a minority race does not affect his ability to do good academic work, so it is unfair to include it as a distinguishing criteria for admissions.
In a nutshell, consider this scenario: Two equally matched candidates, but one is of a minority race, compete for the last place in the university. Both have put in tremendous effort, displayed passion for the subject, and have been lauded by their teachers for being outstanding students. But under Pro's situation, he would pick the one from the minority race for the last place. Is this fair?
2) Affirmative action is unjustified because two wrongs do not make a right
This is a philosophical point about how preferential treatment today does not rectify or remedy the discrimination of the past. Punishments must be rendered onto the guilty party, as he or she committed the crime knowing that it was morally and legally wrong. However, these punishments are never the exact same crime that was committed in the first place. The reason for this is because the criminal act is inherently immoral. Committing the same act, even if it is with good intentions, is still morally wrong. Surely I do not need to demonstrate why discrimination on arbitrary factors is morally egregrious.
Consider this: Is stealing from a thief morally justified? Certainly not. Stealing is morally wrong because it violates our right to property, regardless of the intention.
3) Affirmative action punishes the wrong person
We accept as a well-established principle that the law should only punish individuals who are guilty or accessory to a crime. This is fairness - we should not punish people who played no role in the crime at all.
Affirmative action contradicts this principle by effectively punishing the students who were denied university places because of racial considerations. These students were not the ones who spouted racist hate speech, advocated racial discrimination, or denigrated minority races. Yet, they are the ones who are being made to suffer for the intolerance and crimes of the previous generation. This is made even more ridiculous as these students, belonging to an environment which has safeguarded the rights of minority races, are more likely to be open to the idea of racial equality. Now, they will have less reason to.
4) Affirmative action is detrimental to social progress
When we consider the morality of actions in the real world, we often must include both the intent and the consequences of the actions. After all, intent is hard to discern from the outside, and the consequences have real effects on other people. Extending this principle, even if college admission officers have good intentions (we want to admit more minority race students to remedy the discrimination of the past), this does not mean that positive consequences will result. So what might happen?
Bringing back the scenario from my first substantive argument, there will be resentment towards minority groups from the other races. This is because they have perceived (and in some conceivable ways rightly so) that their opportunities are being taken away from them unfairly, using criteria which should not be part of college admissions. As we can easily accept the idea that university placings are important to people, this is not a light matter. In fact, such resentment will fuel xenophobic sentiments among the majority group, who become increasingly upset that their children's futures are being sacrificed for the minority.
This would eventually become counterproductive for equality movements, as the majority group becomes less receptive to accepting the idea of racial equality. Subtle discrimination may worsen in the workplace or in other social environments, reversing any form of social progress we have achieved in racial equality.
Thank you. I look forward to the rebuttal rounds.
I will start with refutations.
1) "Affirmative action is unjustified on grounds of meritocracy"
Under this contention, my opponent states, "...because it enables society to distribute good opportunities to people who can utilize them well..." Race based admission is necessary to, in my opponent's own words, "distribute good opportunities." Discrimination is the reason some people cannot get into a good college. It starts when minorities are young and can't afford or obtain a good education. Affirmative action gives these well-deserving people the opportunity they need. We have to understand here that some people don't have the opportunity to get a good education, and this is where race admissions come in. Meritocracy is not a valid argument against affirmative action because my opponent fails to realize that affirmative action is only a "tie breaker" in a sense. Race is not the ONLY factor in what goes into the admissions process, & minority applicants would also have to have very high test scores & be an overall great student before colleges & universities even START to consider race. Also, we have to look at the main reason there are less minorities in colleges and universities. The main reason is the income gap, which I'll further elaborate on later. In a sense, an admission system which doesn't take race into account actually undermines meritocracy because it keeps the poor and disadvantaged from getting a good education when they could be just as smart -- or even smarter -- than their rich, advantaged counterparts.
2) "Affirmative action is unjustified because two wrongs do not make a right"
Under this contention, my opponent states, "...preferential treatment today does not rectify or remedy the discrimination of the past." We have to realize here that it is inevitable to take from the rich if we want to help the poor. It"s called Charity. Charities require the fortunate to give things up to the less fortunate, & you don"t see people going around saying charities are unfair, do you? Likewise, affirmative action is taking from Caucasians to help minorities. As Americans, we have to give up some money from our own pockets to support the old, poor, disabled, etc. through government subsidy programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. Affirmative action operates on essentially the same ideal: to aid the poor, we take from the rich. Thus, judged by rules formed in our society, affirmative action is completely justified.
3) "Affirmative action punishes the wrong person"
My opponent goes on about how affirmative action "...effectively punish[es] the students who were denied university places..." However, like I have stated previously, to help the poor we must take from the rich. Charity is not a punishment for anything. When we pay taxes, we know that some of that money goes to government subsidy programs I've mentioned before. Do we perceive this as the government punishing us? Of course not. Affirmative action does not punish anyone. All it does is level the playing field so everyone gets an equal chance to succeed.
4) "Affirmative action is detrimental to social progress"
My opponent states, under this contention, that "even if college admission officers have good intentions...this does not mean that positive consequences will result." In using this argument, my opponent fails to realize that there are actually very positive outcomes of race based admissions. As I've stated in the previous round, and will further elaborate on later, colleges and universities owe much of their diversity to affirmative actions. Look around in America today. What do we see? Surrounding us are people from many different countries and backgrounds, races and ethnicity. I myself am of a minority race. By 2050, our nation will no longer have a clear racial majority. Should not the education environment model this reality? Furthermore, affirmative action in fact promotes equality in the long run. Since an equal education leads to equality in the real world, it follows that affirmative action leads to equality in the real world because it promotes equality in education for all races.
Having refuted all of my opponent's points, I will go on to my own contentions.
P1: It promotes equality by bringing higher education for all.
P2: It spreads more racial diversity.
P3: It is legally justified.
P1: It promotes equality by bringing higher education for all.
According to 2010 US Census & Bureau of Labor Statistics:
The average minority earns about 35-40% less than the average Caucasian.
Higher education is the single best leveler that you will find to bring equality amongst all races, & race admission is the way to do it. So, what is the problem?
Only 14% of minorities over age 25 have a College degree while 35% of Caucasians over age 25 have a college degree.
The question is- why are the percentages for minorities so low & what can we do improve these numbers? Race admission is the way to do it.
According to Urban League"s State of African-American 2004 Report:
African-American males mean income is 70% of Caucasian males, a $16,876 gap.
In most areas of everyday life, Americans are still divided along racial lines, & economics was listed as the most significant racial disparity. The median wealth for most minorities, according to the report, is 10 times less than it is for Caucasians.
It is unfair that such random aspects, which have nothing to do with talent or hard work, have such a determining influence on one"s life chances. Moreover, it undermines meritocracy " by allowing the rich to be advantaged, we create a society in which wealth, rather than ability, is rewarded.
P2: Race admissions spreads more racial diversity.
According to the Guardian:
21 Oxbridge universities took NO African American students since 2007.
This just shows that colleges & universities not only are more inclined to discriminate against minorities, they don"t have enough racial diversity, which is why we need race admissions.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Education:
On average, 2 times more minorities are admitted to colleges after race admissions, putting the number of minorities & majorities in the college at about equal.
According to the University of Michigan:
A racially diverse group was better at solving complex problems than experts.
The reason is that people with similar qualifications or professional training, the experts, often think alike. Adding people of different races means different skills, backgrounds & life experiences, which tended to improve the group's performance. Race admission will provide this!
P3: It is legally justified.
As I've stated in the previous round, the topic specifically states whether or not race admissions is justified, & our team has provided evidence stating that the Supreme Ct. has justified it in 2 cases.
According to 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger Supreme Ct. case:
The Supreme Ct. decided in a close 5-4 vote that race admission is to be allowed & justified.
At end of the day, we need to comply with the topic at hand, which is whether or not race admissions is justified. Our team has proved that race admissions has been ruled legal by the Supreme Ct. in multiple occasions, & this is what should be considered over all else.
Not only does race admissions provide diversity, it is considered legal & justified, it will level out the playing field for all races, & will give minorities the boost they need due to discrimination & lower level education from an early start, maybe even in Kindergarten. I've proven that affirmative action is justified, as specified by the topic.
Now to my opponent. Looking forward to the response!
Issue 1: Does affirmative action uphold the principles of meritocracy?
In Pro's case, he argues two things. Firstly, that there are minority races in the status quo who are disadvantaged by the system. Secondly, this disadvantage can be rectified by enabling colleges and universities to "consider race in admissions decisions", which essentially means setting an informal quota on how many students of a minority race they would accept.
My response to this:
1) There really isn't any evidence coming from Pro showing conclusively that minority races are disadvantaged. Currently, schools are obliged to take in students regardless of race, and they will be prosecuted should they reject any student based on his race. Therefore, schooling opportunities do not suffer from any 'discrimination'.
2) Perhaps Pro's case is the idea that students of a minority race do not have as much resources as students of the majority race, thereby making it unfair. This is incorrect because resource inequality exists even within the students of the majority race, and in fact college admissions do make provisions for people who come from poor backgrounds. Financial assistance also exists for these students who are struggling; needy students who make the cut are given financial bursaries by the government to continue their studies. Hence, even without as much resources, they can still enjoy as much opportunities as their peers.
3) Pro also argued that minority applicants must meet the minimum standard of grades before their race can be considered. If this is true, then we should also consider the situation when there are much more deserving applicants for the school than they can take in. This means that everyone has made the minimum cut, and the selection will then become about choosing the best out of all the deserving applicants. In that case, considering race and thereby prioritising a minority race candidate would rob another candidate of their place in the college.
4) Finally, is this truly the best way to rectify the income inequality between the races? In fact, must we live with stereotyping certain races as "poor" or "rich, when in fact these labels apply equally to all races? The most optimal solution for helping bright students from poor backgrounds to enter universities is to increase spending on all state schools, provide excellent education, and increase financial bursaries and scholarships for talented but needy students. This truly ensures fairness, because those who work hard will be given a helping hand by the government.
Therefore, I'm thankful that Pro agrees that meritocracy is important. What we disagree on is whether or not the status quo provides a level playing field for people to compete fairly for opportunities. I've argued that 1) the playing field is rather level already, and 2) there are better ways to level the playing field, such as needs-based financial help.
Issue 2: Is affirmative action a fair "punishment"?
Pro's case is essentially the idea that taking from the rich and giving to the poor is charity, and charity is good.
1) This is an untrue distinction. You are not merely taking away opportunities from the rich, but also from the student who is poor but happens to be of a majority race, and also from the student from an honest middle class family. You are also not merely giving it to the poor, because not all families of a minority race are poor. While it serves as good rhetoric, this isn't true of the sacrifices involved. The real payoff is taking from the majority of society, and giving to the minority.
2) As I've mentioned in my earlier argument, I do believe that financial help is the solution. I think that race-blind financial help is the most effective in this case, so I'm glad we agree on this. This still does not answer my argument about how you are punishing the current generation for the intolerance of the former generation. This is akin to punishing your children for a mistake you committed. Is this truly fair?
3) Dealing with the point on taxes, there are two reasons why it's a faulty analogy. Firstly, taxes are willingly given by the population. Should you choose to disagree, you can vote for a different government or leave the country. However, in the case of college admissions, students cannot choose to pass on their opportunities to minority race students, it has been chosen for them by the college who cannot be removed or challenged by the students. Secondly, just because people agree that poor people should be helped does not mean that they agree how they should be helped. For example, I would definitely agree with you that poor people should be given assistance when applying for colleges. However, if you proposed giving each and every individual under the poverty line a free scholarship for college, then I would disagree with you. If colleges started implementing minimum quotas for minority races, do you think that the majority race would readily agree with the policy? I honestly doubt so.
Issue 3: Does affirmative action bring more benefits than harm?
Here I will deal with his substantive points.
1) "The first benefit is that it brings higher education to everyone."
- There is a very dangerous assumption here that everyone is capable of "higher education". We have seen the famous college dropouts Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. People are gifted in different areas, some in academia, others in vocational skills, and others in the arts. Just because you send everyone to college doesn't mean everyone will successfully earn a degree. Therefore, expanding higher education to everyone does not necessarily mean a rise in graduates.
- Taking this point further, consider the ramifications when minority race students, who were less qualified than other applicants, do not do well in college. They will fuel racist rhetoric against their entire race, because they were given priority to college but did not do well with the opportunity.
- Pro stated that "The median wealth for most minorities, according to the report, is 10 times less than it is for Caucasians." If this is true, government schemes to benefit the poor would lift most minorities up anyway. Government subsidies for education would help minority race students to compete with richer students in academia, allowing those that strive to continue their education. Why should we implement an additional and unnecessary policy when current policies already help those who need it?
2) "The second benefit is that it spreads racial diversity"
- I agree that racial diversity is important and a good thing. But the issue here isn't about whether or not racial equality is a good thing (it definitely is), the issue is how best can we achieve this racial diversity?
- In the case of the motion, it is effectively a top-down approach to racial diversity, where colleges artificially inflate the population of minority races to make their college appear "diverse". Are we truly satisfied with such a facade? I argue that it would be much better if minority races, through their own effort and merit, qualified for more places in college and hence created a more diverse environment.
- The question here is: is it better to engineer a racially diverse environment, or to provide the right conditions for one to flourish? The most prominent problems of artificially creating one is that lies dampen the spirit of racial equality. When colleges are exemplified as paragons of racial diversity when it is known that racial quotas exist, it makes a mockery out of the equality movement and its achievements so far.
Issue 4: "Legally justified"
This deals with the final substantive on Pro's case.
Firstly, just because something is legal does not make it morally correct. A good example is slavery, which was once legalised because African slaves were legally declared as 'not human'. However, we all know how slavery is morally heinous.
Secondly, even if Pro counter-argues that the legality of an act is part and parcel of today's morality (therefore, slavery was moral by the standards of the past because it was legal in the past), this is still faulty logic. Pro must demonstrate conclusively that legal standards set moral standards, and not the other way round.
Here I will show you why society's moral standards dictate legal standards, thereby disproving Pro's substantive by showing that it has the causation the wrong way round.
- The people who set laws are the legislative body. In the US, this is Congress. In the UK, this is the Parliament. Hence, if Congress or Parliament decides to pass a new law banning alcohol for every person below the age of 21, then this become legislation and will be enforced by the police (executive branch) and the courts (judicial branch).
- The lawmakers are democratically elected by the people through state/county/other geographical denominations elections. Therefore, it can be said that the aggregate opinion of the Congress or Parliament is representative of the aggregate opinion of the population of the country. People make their moral standards evident through the outcome of voting, when they select a candidate who is pro-abortion than anti-abortion. Therefore, laws are reflective of society's opinions on what is right and wrong, because people, with their own moral standards, elect a representative whom then passes legislature which enshrines these moral standards as law.
- This proves Pro's case wrong because laws cannot be said to be the predominant force for shaping society's moral standards. Even for children, parents and social norms are much stronger tools for moulding the child's moral compass compared to the law.
In conclusion, it's unjustified, unnecessary, and counterproductive to true racial equality.
lin0913 forfeited this round.
In any case, I don't have any new rebuttals to bring up. I've rebutted Pro's entire case in Round 3.
Personally, I believe that pursuing equality has two different end goals. One is equality in opportunity, the other is equality in outcome. We often strive towards equality in opportunity, because it is more fair. After all, if people make better use of their opportunities, and reap better rewards, they do deserve to enjoy these rewards compared to those who didn't and chose to slack off instead.
This relates to this topic because implementing racial quotas for colleges is effectively guaranteeing equality in outcome, which isn't fair to those who have worked hard and tried to get into colleges. What we can do, that is much fairer, is to guarantee equality in opportunity. By enabling even the poorest of families to have their child study in a decent school with enough resources, we ensure that nobody who is willing to work hard is disadvantaged. Helping the poor should be racially blind, and that, I think, is the best solution to naturally achieving equality in outcome.
lin0913 forfeited this round.
lovetochow forfeited this round.
No votes have been placed for this debate.
You are not eligible to vote on this debate
This debate has been configured to only allow voters who meet the requirements set by the debaters. This debate either has an Elo score requirement or is to be voted on by a select panel of judges.