The University of Mary Washington accepts applicants each year that might not meet university academic standards but fulfill a quota in the diversity count. These students from minority backgrounds are accepted on the premise that their circumstances may have curtailed their potential, and our university accepts these facts of social reality in America.
These are necessary steps in a nation that has a poor history of social equality.
The American Dream has always been one of upward mobility. With a personal work ethic, one can achieve a comfortable standard of living. Yet, according to the Washington Post, black unemployment hovers around 17 percent, while the national average stagnates around 10 percent. Can we attribute these differences to the work ethic of a specific race?
The answer is no.
Regarding social equality, Republicans tend to take what Harvard Professor Cornel West calls a “conservative-behaviorist” approach. This approach praises self-help programs that operate within the free market.
To put it simply, conservatives would rather help blacks start businesses than enact affirmative action or welfare measures.
The first problem with this approach is its blatant disregard for the victimization of minorities in America. Conservatives emphasize minority cultural behavior as the major obstacle to minority progress. Circumstance is dismissed, as if the preservation of racial ghettos is by personal choice.
At the University of Mary Washington, 15 percent of the student body comes from minority groups. Diversity is essential to creating an environment that undermines homogeneity and accepts difference. This will ultimately heal America’s scar of racial indignity, with affirmative action progressing toward this goal.
This diversity is a necessary social pillar, and if lowering academic standards to acquire such an environment is necessary, then that is what the university should do. Those who claim we are surrendering the academic integrity of this school, find another solution.
These methods instill values that prevent discrimination and praise inclusiveness, which is a necessary skill outside of university life. These are values that can lead to a comfortable work environment, and even increase productivity.
These environments also bring to the forefront different experiences and ideas. Middle-class white students might not reexamine their proposals if people with similar backgrounds and experiences surround them. The play of differences allows for a more creative and productive environment. This is the environment that should be cultivated on campus, which is why lowering the standards, for minority students, is essential to academic success.
The fact is, every human being shares 99.9 percent of the same DNA. Until every American realizes this, affirmative action is a necessary stepping stone to racial equality.