By Ana | April 28, 2012
At work the other day, one of my tasks was to compile a spreadsheet of applicants to a certain program of study. I was asked to look up students’ names, colleges within the university, majors/minors, GPAs, and ethnicity/race.
I couldn’t help but ask one of my supervisors–why does ethnicity/race need to be added to this data compilation? The answer I was given was something along the lines of needing to know how many applicants to this program were of one race, how many were of that race, etc. My next question was: why does that matter?
I was told that public institutions need to know that kind of thing, because apparently if enough minorities aren’t being accepted into programs, then that institution does not get government funding. Furthermore, I learned that students of certain races are offered scholarships that students of other races do not, regardless of merit. Meaning, a student could be getting a scholarship not because they deserve it because they work hard in school, but simply because they happened to be born a particular race. My question still remains: why should that matter?
If someone wants to learn, what does it matter what race they are? Why should someone who has poorer grades than I do be offered a scholarship or even admission to a school over me simply because I am not of a particular race? Why should someone get a free ride to college because of their race, even when they can afford going to college without financial aid, but I have to take out high-interest loans because I cannot afford college and because I am not of that particular race? Why is the emphasis on race and not on intellectuality?
It seems to me as though things are not at all equal. Shouldn’t the playing field be level for everyone? It is rare that I am disappointed in my university, but this is one of those times. And I know it isn’t just this university–it is EVERY public institution of education in the country. And that disheartens me. We should be rewarding people on the basis of who works hard and excels , not on the basis of factors that are uncontrollable, such as race or ethnic background. Private scholarships are one thing–if I wanted to, I could set up a private scholarship that only gives money to people with green eyes and purple hair–but it needs to be different in the public setting. The taxpayer’s money should not be used on such a biased form of financial aid. It looks at qualities that we are consistently told are not supposed to matter–”it’s what’s on the inside that counts”–but what is being preached is not being practiced.
This type of blatant racial discrimination is something we should all be ashamed of. Didn’t the equal rights movement happen fifty years ago? Why are we even still having this discussion? I am deeply saddened by the current system. By deciding which races are “desirable” and which we need “more” and “less” of, we are no more equal and no more tolerant than the our parents and grandparents’ generations.
I can only hope that one day, my children and grandchildren will live in a world that looks beyond race and places the highest value on a person’s character, capabilities, and work ethic.