The Failures of Affirmative Action

About a month ago, a trial took place on a suit by a group of Asian-Americans against Harvard University, claiming it limits the number of Asian students the Ivy League institution admits. This case, Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard, may have a drastic impact on the future of college admissions and practices, as it threatens the existence of Affirmative Action in colleges.

This case addresses one of the chief concerns regarding Affirmative Action. While rectifying race issues of the past – these issues primarily being limited opportunities for minorities to attend universities – shows good intentions, the fact of the matter is that with limited spots, providing an unbalanced opportunity to one group will always hurt others.

While Affirmative Action was created to help those unfairly discriminated against, the process itself discriminates unfairly. When Asian-Americans outperform virtually every other group, they should not be punished for merely being the wrong race. Those who outperform should be rewarded, not punished, for circumstances outside of their control.


As Affirmative Action is a system with the goal of rectifying discrimination, the fact that it appears to discriminate against Asians, a group that has also seen heavy discrimination in America’s past, is ironic. This shows an inherent flaw in the system, as it does not address many past instances of discrimination, only a few of the most known.

While some argue that Affirmative Action is racist by design and as such should be abolished, I do not believe that this alternative would rectify any issues. A solution would be to change Affirmative Action from a system that observes race to one that looks at socioeconomic factors. This would still give minority and/or low-income applicants a little help and easier access to college and the opportunities higher education provides.

Affirmative Action does provide a needed benefit, as without it, colleges could blindly discriminate against minority applicants. However, I believe that as a nation that level of discrimination is unlikely to appear again.

When Affirmative Action was envisioned, it was seen as a way to help fix the issues of discrimination in employment and education. The way that Affirmative Action in education is currently structured, it provides an avenue for colleges, such as Harvard, to discriminate against over-performing minority groups. This discrimination opposes the very mission of Affirmative Action and if it is allowed to continue, will cause those who work hard to achieve exceptional academics to be skipped over simply due to the color of their skin.

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