Issues Of Affirmative Action Laws

Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story. This is a typical prompt offered as a supplementary essay for the Common Application. The Common Application is an undergraduate admission application that can be used to apply to any number of 700 member colleges all with the simple push of a button. This question and many other similar ones offer applicants a chance to share meaningful stories of their lives that can’t be quantified. No number out of 1600 can provide even a glimpse of insight into the unique set of circumstances that’s shaped any specific applicant. These supplementary essays are set up so that an admissions officer can read the application and connect with the applicant on a personal level, but now picture this scenario: An admissions officer picks up an application to review it and finds that every single part of the application that suggests the applicant’s race has been redacted. This may quickly become a grim reality if the four Asian American students that are suing Harvard win the case.

These four students believed that they were more qualified to receive a spot in the class of 2018 than their minority counterparts, and because of affirmative action they were held at a higher standard for admission than other students. Affirmative action is a policy that favors individuals that are part of communities that are victims of discrimination. In other words a Black or Hispanic student may get priority to a college over an Asian or White student because they’re of a minority race. This lawsuit could put the affirmative action laws that are enforced in universities all over the country in jeopardy. In this era of supposed colorblindness, affirmative action is necessary to level the playing field in college admission. The enforcement of affirmative action versus the elimination of affirmative action directly relate to the two terms equity vs equality, respectively. To fully understand the connection between the two similar sounding words and affirmative action, it’s imperative that the two words are differentiated. Equality is treating everyone the same.

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Equity is giving everyone the tools they need to be successful. Equality works to promote fairness, but it only works if everyone starts from the same place and requires the same help. Equity appears unfair on the surface because you are giving some people more help than others, but it actively moves everyone closer to success by so called, “leveling the playing field”. Giving students who come to school already behind in academics the same resources as somebody at the top of their class doesn’t successfully close the achievement gap. That is why students that have endured hardship, usually low-income students and students of minority groups, should be given the adequate amount of resources so they can succeed just as well as privileged top tier students. This is the importance of equity. The ideas of affirmative action that are now headlining controversy all across the U.S in the 21st century can be dated back to a time as early as the Reconstruction Era. This era covers the approximate decade between 1865-1877, after the Civil War, where the Confederate South was working to join back into the United States. Newly released from the shackles of slavery, many black Americans had no experience in leading an independent life in the “land of the free”.

As a result, General William Sherman proposed the “forty acres and a mule” policy which granted land in Georgia to black families. This proposal was soon quashed by President Andrew Johnson, but it was a significant event in history that got the ball rolling for civil rights and more specifically affirmative action .President John F. Kennedy though, was the first person to apply the idea of affirmative action in the modern way we think of it now. In 1961, he signed the Executive Order 10925 that stated that government contractors must “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed and that employees are treated during employment without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Affirmative action is necessary in creating racially diverse college communities all across the United States. The typical university in the United States is very White and highly selective universities are even more so.

In 2014, Whites made up on average, a 58% majority of students attending 4 year colleges. In the same pool, African American students made up only 13% and Latinx students made up approximately 12%. Affirmative action policies attempt to even these numbers out so minority races get adequate representation in these institutions. Unfortunately these policies have recently come under fire, and court cases dealing with the problems of affirmative action, and more specifically reverse discrimination have been popping up everywhere. Reverse discrimination is the practice of favoring individuals belonging to groups that have been discriminated against previously. In this most recent case SFFA vs Harvard, the highly selective ivy league university is accused of violating the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in voter registration requirements, schools, employment, and public accommodations. The 4 Asian-American students that represent The Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) in court claim that Harvard has been giving higher test scoring Asian-American students’ spots in their classes to students of racial minorities for decades. Similarly, in 2013 Abigail Fisher, a White female that was rejected from the University of Texas sued the school for violating the Equal Protection Clause. In simple terms, the Equal Protection Clause, a part of the fourteenth amendment, says that no state can make or enforce any law that abridges the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States and no state can deprive a person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law. In addition, a person within the jurisdiction of a state that they reside in cannot be denied the equal protection of the laws.

The University of Texas has a plan called the Top Ten Percent Rule that guarantees admission to the top 10% of every in-state graduating high school class. Fisher did not qualify with this plan and believed that her race was used against her during her admissions process. Both of these court cases sit in a blurry, grey area. What are the real reasons that these students weren’t accepted into these universities? Was it really their race that was a major contributing factor or did they just not have an impressive enough application? The plaintiffs of these cases as well as many other people against affirmative action think that race should not be considered in a student’s application. Instead they offer proposals to rid schools of these controversies by paying attention only to student’s socioeconomic background. The argument follows that giving economically disadvantaged students a boost will eventually lead to racial diversity. This doesn’t solve the problem of lack of racial diversity on campus for a simple reason: most poor people in the U.S. are White. Putting a thumb on the scale for poorer students will come out benefitting White students much more than students of minority communities. It’s clear that creating a college environment with economic diversity is a goal. The most highly-selective universities accept more students from the top 1% on the income distribution scale than from the entire bottom half. However it is important to note that while Black or Hispanic students are more likely to be poor, the majority of poor students that apply to these highly selective schools are White.

In the 90s, Professor Thomas Kane from Harvard addressed the issue of economic diversity versus racial diversity in a paper that showed that just one out of six economically disadvantaged students attending elite schools were Black or Hispanic. For every five White students there was only one of a minority race. Prof. Kane’s theory still holds true to this day. Highly-selective colleges can’t achieve racial diversity without considering race during the admissions process, and no other variable including income can help achieve it either.

With affirmative action laws in jeopardy it’s important to understand the severity of the consequences that ignoring race in college admission has. Many researchers have set out to determine the kind of impact a ban on affirmative action would have, if implemented. Their investigation results, published in a report titled “Diversity and Affirmative Action in Higher Education” in October of 2007, revealed the staggering results that such a ban could decrease the number of minorities at the nation’s more highly-selective institutions by as much as 35 percent. In addition to taking steps backwards from creating a racially diverse college environment, ignoring race has detrimental effects toward the students. Primarily it strips the student of their identity. How would you feel if you were told you could not talk about your gender, your religion or your sexual orientation, that you couldn’t discuss your disability or speak your own language? These can all be very key aspects that help to shape a student and by judging a student without regards to the parts of their life that are important to them, it is essentially stripping them of that identity. Not only does silencing discussions about race effectively silence the people whose lives have been largely shaped by race, it also prevents the unity of people across communities and may even pull these communities apart.

The Effects On Child Abuse

The Effects on Child Abuse in Children Like many children, Pete thought physical abuse he suffered was normal from his mother. In the article, Pete’s story, Pete explains his tragic memories from his mother, My earliest memory of my mum’s temper is from when I was a toddler, and she was throwing books down the stairs at my dad. I was so young at the time that I thought it was a game. When my dad moved out, when I was 5 or 6, her aggression turned on me. Over the years, my mum kicked and beat me, throttled me, threw me down the stairs and pushed me into a scalding hot bath. She once held my head under water, and another time she shoved a full bar of soap in my mouth. There are too many incidents to recount. Even though she could be nasty, she could be loving too. It was just that you’d never know when she was going to flip, get angry and start screaming at you. Sometimes after a flare-up, she’d be apologetic; other times she’d accuse me of starting it. Sometimes she’d pretend it never happened (Irimia R, Gottschling M, 2016). Child abuse can cause trauma to a child’s health, mental health, development, and dignity.

Child abuse is one of the significant issues which have driven an immense amount of attention in the Pacific Countries. Numerous organizations have been established with its key ambition of handling child abuse cases and creating awareness on this issue. The Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA, 2010, p.6), defines child abuse and neglect as; Any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation, or an act or failure to act which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.’ Child abuse is commonly classified into four categories: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and negligence.

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In this essay, the problem of child abuse will be discussed with context to the reasons why child abuse is a heightened issue, arguments in contradiction of child abuse using the principal of deontology, and finally, ways that can help to decrease the number of child abuse cases utilizing two approaches to governance. Millions of children every year across the world become victims of child abuse. In a small Pacific island country like Fiji, the child abuse cases that have been reported to authorities is an alarming number. In the year 2016, a total of 1077 child abuse and neglect cases were disclosed to Ministry of Women, Children and Poverty Alleviation in Fiji (Vakasukawaqa, 2017, p.17).

And in the year after, a total of 256 cases of child neglect was recorded by the Child Services Unit from January to November and in the same year, the Child Welfare Decree Statistics revealed a total of 168 cases of child physical abuse and 153 cases of child sexual abuse in Fiji (Boila, 2018). Other Pacific island countries are also facing the same problem. The Solomon Islands Ministry of Women, Youth, Children and Family Affairs carried out research work and concluded that the country was no longer a safe place for children (Radio New Zealand, 2017). Like the articles mentioned above, there are thousands more currently on the internet with numbers more horrifying than the ones found in Fiji and other Pacific Island countries with regards to child maltreatment.

Therefore, to face the issue, the causes of child abuse need to be acknowledged. The former Minister for Children, Ms. Rosy Akbar, discussed several cases of child abuse which include; a change in the social landscape which is technology, failed relationships, domestic violence, virtual romancing, drug trafficking, sex trades, child labor, and pornography’ (Chandra, 2015, p.22). Another reason as to why child abuse is on the rise in Fiji is because of parenting problems. Because some parents are young and do not have experience very much, they are the ones that are most likely neglect the child’s needs. Abusive parents are also a leading aspect to the rise in child abuse. These parents are the ones that are unable to control their anger.

As a result, they bring out their frustrations on their children leading to physical child abuse. And lastly, some parents often interchange discipline with abuse and support their doing with the quotation from the bible Spare the rod and Spoil the child, without understanding the full context of the phrase (Delaibatiki, 2017, p.42). All categories of child abuse without regard to the reasons, affect the child one way or the other. According to Sunila Karan, child abuse does not harm the victim, but instead, the child may experience problems such as anxiety, depression, aggression, low self-esteem, acting-out, withdrawal, difficulty trusting people, and school learning disabilities (Karan, 2010, p.29).

Many at times children are noticed with bruises and cuts and all these problems identified above yet most of the times no investigation are taken. For instance, a case where a school teacher assumed that the child is being abused at home, however due to no physical evidence the teacher does not take any action. If this situation were to be looked at through a deontological point of view, the right move would have been to report the matter because it isn’t just morally wrong, it also violates the laws. Immanuel Kant came up with a rule called the Categorical Imperative which states that act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law’ (Kant, 1994, p.30). If this theory is applied here and all children are abused at home, and no one is to report the matter, the world would be full of anger and violence. This will cause chaos in the world because violence would be all around and no one to bat an eye, making this situation unethical.

Therefore, according to Kant, the right action would be to report the matter to the authorities because not doing so is a wrong and immoral decision. People often only seem to associate child abuse with abusive parents. However, there is another major factor why child abuse is unethical, and most of the time people seem to overlook this. This is the cost incurred when the government and other organization dealing with child abuse are involved. These costs are often for investigation purposes, foster care, medical and health treatment costs, and other costs. Not only are countries paying millions of dollars for this, but the costs also continue to grow over time. Pollett and Gurr researched UNICEF on the costs of child abuse in Vanuatu and the total cost associated with child abuse was between $293.8 and $425.4 million Vt (Pollett & Gurr, 2009, p.1).

This dilemma could be resolved if we apply the principal of non-consequentialism. Non-consequentialism is a principal of deontology which states that an action is ethical if the duties are performed regardless of the consequences of the action. Concerning child abuse, many experts have been put on duty to protect the child, to keep them with the family, to improve family relationships and to inform the competent authorities of the case. If all these professionals are doing their required share along with the parents and children, the number of child abuse cases will most definitely decrease. This will be achieved if the non-consequentialism theory is strictly applied and all the members are doing their right share of work accordingly.

In conclusion, this universal problem has many types with its different characteristics. Some of the major cause or the factors that cause the rise in child abuse in Fiji are family problems, abusive parents, and many more as discussed in the essay. Child abuse comes with its own cost such as physiological costs, economic costs, and there are several others. This matter can be disciplined if principles of good governance such as self-governance and family governance are followed. The question that remains unanswered is if children are considered the most valuable resource within any community, why are they the ones that are most abused.


Boila, S. (2018). More than 250 cases of child neglect recorded for 2017. [Internet]. Suva, Fiji Broadcasting Corporation. Available at: [Accessed on 16th April 2018]. Chandra, T. 2015. Rise in child abuse cases. The Fiji Times. 20th April 2015. p.22. Delaibatiki, N. 2017. We Cannot Remain Silent and Allow Child Abuse to Flourish. Fiji Sun. 07th February 2017. P.42. Deloitte United Kingdom. (2018). What is family governance’ | Deloitte UK. [Online] Available at: [Accessed 16th April 2018]. Kant, I. (1994). Ethical Philosophy. Hackett Publishing Karan, S. 2010. Child-Abuse. Fiji Sun. 20th November 2010. p.29. Pollett, J. & Gurr, S. (2009). Lifting the financial burden of child abuse: A Vanuatu Case Study. p.1. Radio New Zealand. (2017). Solomon Islands no longer safe for children – report. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed on 16th April 2018]. The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. (2010) s.1(3) United States: Department of Health and Human Services. Vakasukawaqa, A. 2017. 1077 Child Abuse, Neglect Cases Reported in 2016: Vuniwaqa. Fiji Sun. 9th March 2017. p.17.

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