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Race Based Affirmative Action in Universities

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/2/2016 Category: Education
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 306 times Debate No: 85963
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




This will be an argument about whether or not universities should use race as a criteria in their admissions decisions, and give preference to certain ethnic groups (African-americans/Hispanics, etc.).

There is "hard" affirmative action: the use of quotas in the admissions process (5% of the admitted students must be African-American).
There is "soft" affirmative action: An African-American with a 3.7 GPA will be accepted over a Caucasian with a 3.8 GPA.

The first round will be acceptance only.


Firstly I would like to thank epicmaster1234 for allowing me to debate on this issue. I accept this challenge. I would like to mention that this will be interesting for me, as I have to clear stance on this issue, and hopefully we shall both learn more about this topic. I wish Con luck, and may the best debater win.
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting my debate.

Race based affirmative action should not be used at colleges and universities. Using race as a criteria in admissions is unfair to everyone involved. A blatant issue using race is that race has no direct correlation to achievement. I understand that certain races are often disadvantaged; but instead of using race, we should use the direct disadvantages in the admissions process. For example, African-americans often live in lower-end neighborhoods, where they attend worse schools and have less opportunities in the community. This should certainly be considered in admissions; have them report their school and socioeconomic status, and let that be considered during the application process. Let them be evaluated within their context, but race should not enter the equation. People do not receive less opportunities because they are African-american; they receive less opportunities because of their standing in life while growing up. Is there a meaningful difference between an African-american growing up in ghetto Oakland and the son of Vietnamese immigrants living next door? In the admissions process, there should be no difference. This type of admissions process clearly disadvantages Asian-americans, Caucasians, and ethnic groups who are often in the top of their class. Why should a White candidate be denied while a Black candidate, who lives in the same neighborhood, has similar test scores, and attends the same school, gets accepted? Using race as a criteria ignores the actual issue at play, leaving many ethnic groups with an unfair disadvantage.

Furthermore, race based affirmative action often leaves people second-guessing minorities when they are truly deserving of a seat at a university. It also demeans minorities; they don't need quotas and their skin color to succeed.

Race based affirmative action ignores larger issues at play (socioeconomic situation), and is even bad for groups it seeks to help. Therefore, it should be eliminated from the college admissions process.


While it is true that a majority of insular minority groups fall into lower socioeconomic status, it is no reason to ignore the fact that there is an intrinsic level of racism among society in America. The simple truth is that insular minorities are not represented as well as the majority. This can first easily be seen by the percentage of different racial/ethnic amounts in the 113th congress (which my following data will refer to). African American members of congress make up 8.3% of congress, Hispanic/Latino make up 6.9% and Asian / Pacific Islander American members make up 2.4% while American Indians / Native Americans make up 2, not 2%, but 2 members of congress (data gathered from This leaves White/Caucasian members representing approximately 80% of congress. Putting this into perspective, (in 2014) The population demographics were as follows:

White alone, percent, 77.4%

Black or African American alone, 13.2%

American Indian and Alaska Native alone, 1.2%

Asian alone, percent definition and source info Asian alone, 5.4%

Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, 0.2%

Hispanic or Latino, 17.4%

(Data from

It can clearly be seen how whites are over-represented, and all other races (with an exception to Asian) are underrepresented. While this data does not directly point to there being intrinsic racism among America, it does represent that certain racial groups are indeed underrepresented in this country. Certain methods, such as gerrymandering, allow for this under representation to indeed occur. This lack of representation for these groups has its roots in two reasons: the concept that there is intrinsic racism among America, and the hardships created for these groups by past oppression.

There are two main reasons that Affirmative Action is important:

Firstly, it allows for these racial groups, whom have been previously oppressed and who have lower socioeconomic status than the majority group, to be better represented.

Secondly, it negates much of the racism that is possibly encountered during the college application process.

To elaborate on the first point, it has been seen that people, who have received at least some college are more likely to be voters (data from With that said, to be better represented, one must vote from someone who will represent them, in this case, minority groups will be better represented legally and politically when they are educated. Therefore, in order to be represented equally in this nation, minority groups should have a similar level of education as Whites/Caucasians do. In order to provide this equal chance, covert quotas shall be made to insure that colleges represent the population of their region. By doing so, it will ensure that minority groups do indeed become better represented politically, legally, and economically.

To elaborate on the second point, it can easily be noticed that racism still exists within America. This can be seen by states attempting to create difficulties for minority voters (such as poll hours and gerrymandering). Moreover, these minority groups have been previously disadvantaged, making them discreet and insular minorities, and therefore to counteract this inequality, they must be given the current advantage received from Affirmative Action.

Colleges currently do look at the economic status of applicants, which indeed has a larger impact as a percentage of applicants on minority groups. However, it does rid of the possibility that the college application readers may be racist, either consciously or intrinsically, and therefore may wish to accept a white student over a minority or giving the white student an advantage. To prevent this from occurring Affirmative Action works with little harm to other applicants.

It is rarely a case where covert racial quotas cause minority students to be accepted over white students who have better test scores, grades, etc. In fact, the method by which colleges tend to accept students and fill the quotas is by accepting the best from each racial/ethnic group (of course including other factors, such as socioeconomic status) which will have a tendency to not reject a White or Asian applicant solely because they were of such race/ethnicity, but rather because an applicant with almost, if not the same, level of education (and other application factors) was of minority race/ethnicity. Moreover, the fact that there are applicants of minority race that have perhaps slightly lower ranking factors of a college application only shows that they are indeed disadvantaged and in order to be better represented socially, legally, politically, and economically, affirmative action should be used by colleges in the application process.

I wish my opponent luck in their next round. I do have a suggestion, I believe the next round should be used for cross-examination (I shall ask you questions following this suggestion, and you shall answer next round, then in your round, you shall ask questions and I shall answer in my next round). In the final round, we shall rebut answers to said questions and naturally conclude. If you so wish to debate in such manner, please answer the following questions and ask me questions in the next round, which I will answer in the next round.

Questions for Con (please elaborate a bit for each answer):

1. Would you agree that some methods, such as gerrymandering and creating difficulties for voting at polls, are used in some cases to prevent minority groups from being represented as equally as Whites in the political spectrum?

2. Would you agree that minority groups, especially the African American minority, has faced oppression by the majority racial/ethnic group in the past?

3. Would you agree that past oppression has placed these minority groups at a disadvantage in the educational field when compared to the White/Caucasian group (answer as if affirmative action were not in place)?

4. Would you agree that racial/ethnic minorities should get representation politically as directly correlated to their demographic percentage of the national population?

Debate Round No. 2


Thank you for your response and your suggestion. I will follow the proposed cross-examination structure outlined by my opponent.

1. I agree that some methods do make it difficult for minorities to be equally represented politically. However, I fail to understand what this has to do with race-based Affirmative Action (RBAA). If this is a problem, then there should be steps taken to prevent these measures (gerrymandering, etc.) from occurring. Making race a criteria in the admissions process does nothing to fix this, especially because this isn't a case of minorities being uneducated. This is a case of unfair rules; education has little to do with this disadvantage.

2. I would argue that many minority groups have faced hardships/oppression in the past. This is a reason why RBAA isn't fair. African-americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans have all faced hardships. But so have Asian-americans, Jews, Eastern Europeans and other minorities who do NOT benefit from RBAA. I find it difficult to believe that an African-american born to a working class family in Detroit in the 1990's has a disadvantage compared to a Vietnamese orphan who arrives in LA at the age of 7, not knowing the language. Why should the african-american be favored in the college admissions process?

3. I don't fully understand this question. I believe past oppression has placed nearly all ethnic groups besides White Christian Western Europeans at a disadvantage. Some groups certainly have been oppressed more. If RBAA was not in place, I don't believe this oppression would be drastically different.

4. I believe that in a perfect world, it would not matter whether or not minorities' representation in politics directly correlates to their demographic percentage. Blacks do not necessarily vote for blacks, and so on. However, I agree that the fact that minorities are underrepresented is a reflection of the fact that minorities do not have the opportunity to advance in politics.

I will now rebut my opponents argument, before asking my own questions. My opponent argued that due to the underrepresentation of minorities in congress, RBAA should be implemented. I do not believe that this is correct. RBAA does not have a bearing on how many minorities get elected. As my opponent stated, much of this underrepresentation is due to unfair rules in the election process, as well as intrinsic levels of racism in our society. RBAA does not solve either of these problems. Unfair rules in the election process should be targeted, and reformed; RBAA does not enter the equation. RBAA does not decrease racism in our society. If anything, it builds resentment between minorities who are benefitted, and the majority, as well as other minorities who are not helped, and are often hurt.

My opponent gave two reasons why affirmative action is important:

"Firstly, it allows for these racial groups, whom have been previously oppressed and who have lower socioeconomic status than the majority group, to be better represented."

This is flawed. Colleges do not have an obligation to admit based on population proportions. Their job is to accept the most qualified candidates, given their circumstances. If someone grew up in a poor neighborhood with poor schools, this should be considered. Whether this person is White, Black, or purple does not matter. Being of a certain race should not make you a more qualified candidate. The purpose of college education in today's world is not to encourage political participation. It should not be treated as such. If there is a problem with voter non-participation, then fix the problem. Don't use a roundabout way to hide that problem. A college's job is to give qualified applicants opportunities; voter participation doesn't enter the equation.

"Secondly, it negates much of the racism that is possibly encountered during the college application process."

This has some merit, but ultimately does not justify RBAA. Perhaps to counteract this, we should make the box where you disclose your race optional. No matter what we do, we should not give certain ethnic groups an advantage over an unproven bias that may or may not exist. Conduct investigations into colleges to see if there is intrinsic racism. Implement fines. But do not make race a criteria, punishing certain ethnic groups because of an unrecognized fear.

Many of my opponent's arguments seem to be advocating for RBAA as a way to solve minority underrepresentation in politics. This is unfair. If there are problems with how minorities are being represented, solve the problem directly. Don't use RBAA, as this is unfair to other minorities and the majority.


1. Would you agree that the job of a college is to pick out the most qualified candidates, given their socioeconomic context, regardless of their race?

2. Would you agree that RBAA pushes certain applicants over the edge, when they wouldn't have gotten in without RBAA?

3. Would you agree that RBAA cannot solve unfair political representation?

4. Would you agree that if RBAA was not implemented (while socioeconomic affirmative action still was implemented), more majority, asian-american, etc. candidates would be accepted?

Good luck in the next round!


I would first like to thank my opponent for following my suggested structure.

To answer their questions:

1. I would disagree with this statement. A college may choose to accept their candidates in any manner they wish. If they choose to create a more diverse campus, then it is indeed their job to accept students with race as a factor.

2. I would also disagree with the second question. Although I am a bit unsure about what it means to "push over the edge," from what I understand most applicants who would not have received acceptance without RBAA, would not receive it with RBAA.

3. I would disagree with this question as well, as I clearly showed how people who receive at least some college are more likely to vote, and therefore can make themselves more represented politically. Even with political manipulation, such as gerrymandering, having more people vote does make a difference, and with enough voters, they could elect legislators with goals to eliminate these unfair and biased political practices.

4. I would like to abstain from answering the final question. I have no real answer myself, and there is no clear data to show the effects of not implementing RBAA. For these reasons, I choose not to answer.

To rebut my opponents argument:

My opponent claims that RBAA has little effect on how minorities get elected, yet I showed data which proved that more educated people (people who have received some college) tend to have a higher voting turnout that those that haven't. Therefore, if minority races are accepted to college based off of regional proportions to the population, they will have a higher chance of being represented better politically, as they will have a tendency to have greater voter turnout. With a higher voter turnout, it can ultimately lead to the ability to elect legislators who wish to rid of political nuisances, such as gerrymandering. Without this higher voter turnout, it is not so likely these unfair rules will be overturned.

My opponent also claims that RBAA does not decrease racism in our society, however this is clearly not the case. It forces more diverse campuses to exist, bettering the integration of minority groups into society. Moreover, the other two well-known minorities that aren't advantaged by RBAA (Asian and Jewish) are considered to have a great enough socioeconomic status and therefore are already well integrated into society.

By stating that my claim that RBAA "allows for these racial groups, whom have been previously oppressed and who have lower socioeconomic status than the majority group, to be better represented," is flawed and that "ccolleges do not have an obligation to admit based on population proportions" only shows that more legislation looking over RBAA must be created, to have colleges accept the racial minority groups based off of regional proportions.

By saying that voter participation does not enter the equation is blatantly false. Receiving a better education not only makes one more likely to vote, but it also teaches them about the issues facing them directly, allowing them to make more educated voting decisions which help them individually or as a certain group. Although it isn't a direct solution to the problem of low voter turnout among minorities, it is a solution that does indeed work.

My opponent also claims that disclosing one's race on an application optional would be a solution to intrinsic racism among society and preventing racism during the application process. However, the college may infer race from the name, or other information which may give away the race. Moreover, what would occur when a college wishes to interview their students to learn more about them. Sadly, this solution is quite theoretical and in fact a bit unrealistic to implement.

Although RBAA may not be a direct solution to fixing problems with under representation in politics, it serves as a working solution, and therefore should remain implemented along with the reason that it prevents much of the possible racism that may prevail during the application process.

I wish my opponent luck in the final round.
Debate Round No. 3


I concede that colleges may want to pick students to select a diverse campus. However, race still does not need to be a direct factor. Diverse experiences does not necessarily mean diverse races.

The average SAT score for Harvard is a 2260 [1]. The average SAT score for African-Americans admitted to Harvard was 2149 [2]. This means that, overall, the African-americans who were admitted had a below average SAT score. Without affirmative action, they most likely would not have been accepted, as their scores were clearly lower than average. Low income accounts for some, but not all, of this discrepancy.

Note that in your response to question 3, you never used the word "race", or mentioned any in particular. I can't find any studies on it, but I'm certain all races would vote against gerrymandering; it shouldn't matter which races we educate, as all races need to be represented politically. Also, eliminating race based affirmative action would not eliminate minorities from colleges. Community colleges, and less selective public and private schools would still be enrolling African-americans, ensuring that they are heard politically.

UC Berkeley is one of the top institutions in the world. Its student body is approximately 42% asian, 24% white, 12% hispanic, and 3% african-american [3]. It does not implement RBAA. Stanford, it's neighbor across the bay, is 20% asian, 37% white, 6% african-american, and 15% hispanic [4]. While there are differences between the schools, it is most likely RBAA played a huge role in the smaller amounts of asians in Stanford, and the increase in African-americans and hispanics.
Clearly, if RBAA is not implemented, more asian-americans and whites would be accepted.

My opponent argues that if RBAA is implemented, then more minorities will vote, which will help get rid of political nuisances. First off, more minorities voting does not necessarily mean more minorities will be elected. Ben Carson will very likely not receive a large amount of the black vote; policies, not race, should matter when making political decisions. Furthermore, universities have NO obligation to make sure minorities vote. A higher voter turnout will certainly lead to a more democratic process. But almost all races have low voter turnout, not just african-americans [5]. Using an institution (colleges) that isn't tied to the voting process to attempt to increase minority voter turnout is unnecessary. And, as elaborated above, it deprives asian-americans and whites of college spots they were qualified for.

My opponent argues that minorities that aren't advantaged by RBAA already have well-established socioeconomic status. But Iraqi, Bangladeshi, Vietnamese, Thai, and Yugoslavian immigrants are all in the poorer half of ethnic groups. None of these groups would be advantaged by RBAA. This is why socioeconomic affirmative action is more effective.

I am still unsure why colleges should accept minorities off of regional proportions. The only argument my opponent has offered is that it will improve voter turnout. Colleges are not responsible for voter turnout. Furthermore, as I explained above, eliminating RBAA will not eliminate minorities from colleges. Community colleges, online colleges, and many other approaches allow for a bachelor's or associate's degree, improving the odds that minorities will vote. Implementing RBAA will deny more qualified candidates the spots they deserve.

I agree that we need more minorities in higher education. But the solution isn't to give them an advantage in the admissions process, when they deserve none. Again, many options exist for them to receive a college education. We could also implement programs to ensure low income students, many of them african-american or hispanic, can succeed in school.

My opponents main argument is invalid; just because RBAA does not exist still allows for minorities to achieve an education, and vote.

Please vote for con.

[5] [6]


benschroeder43 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by benschroeder43 8 months ago
I am truly sorry about having to forfeit the last round, as I was away at a location with virtually no internet access. I will say that I enjoyed debating, and I wish the best of luck to you during the voting period.

Thank you for allowing me to have this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by U.n 8 months ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeited turn.