Good example of research paper on affirmative action (pros)

Different individuals or groups have different views about affirmative action. Some of them agree on some portions of affirmative action whereas others do not. There are thus usually pros and cons to this controversial issue. To get to my point across, let me define first what is considered as one of the generally agreed definitions of affirmative action. Affirmative action “ involves taking positive steps in job hiring and college admissions to correct certain past injustices against groups such as minorities and women” (Boss, 2011, p. 30). In one of the book sections of Boss (2011), he presented two conflicting views from two individuals: Cantor and Connerly. For Cantor, affirmative action is “ a way to enrich the educational and intellectual lives of white students as well as students of color” (p. 31). For her, race should not be abandoned in admissions. On the other hand, for Connerly, affirmative action is about “ race preferences,” but was against it because it undermines the principle of fairness (p. 32). Instead, he advocates merit-based systems (such as in college admissions), although imperfect, has nonetheless “ allowed talents to flourish” (p. 32). So, which has a weightier reason for his/her claims?
Given the two partially conflicting arguments in favor or against affirmative action, proponents or not, they have their own arguments in support of affirmative action. The pros of affirmative can be stated briefly in two question forms: Is affirmative action has a place in a democracy that is built on equal rights for all citizens? Another is: Is affirmative action rather a violation of the fundamental principle of fairness? Well, enough evidences, case or simply logic can answer definitely either of the questions, which will be discussed in the latter portion of my essay. Nevertheless, for the moment, let me state my answers this way:
Depending on one’s point of view, affirmative action has a place in a democracy whether it is built on equal rights for all citizens or not. For my part, however, I think that affirmative action is a violation of the fundamental principles of fairness. My reason is that democracy is a fair playing field. Although some peoples are disadvantaged because of their races, color of their skin, etc., our genuine concern should be on merit. When we prefer a particular characteristic of a person to others, which carries no bearing as to one’s aptitude, intelligence, etc., we are doing more harm than good to other peoples’ rights. Sometimes, we do not simply make affirmation as to what should be done as long as we do not defy the very intent/action that we presuppose/advance. Hence, I prefer more an affirmative action based a bit on race but more on merit.
Given the example above concerning my choice of answer to the above preceding questions concerning the pros and cons of affirmative action, let me go back to Boss’ book section on affirmative action that I already mentioned. I will go back to Cantor’s and Connerly’s perspectives. I will try to present a clearer view by comparing and contrasting their perspectives on the use of affirmative action, specifically on college admissions. I will present who, between the two, has a better argument given that affirmative action is a pressing issue to many individuals who love equality, fairness, and so on.
Both Cantor and Connerly have the same understanding of what affirmative action is that it is about racial issue such as in college admission. Cantor argued that affirmative action enriches the educational/intellectual lives of peoples no matter what their racial backgrounds are, whereas Connerly claims that racial classification is unfair because it “ treat people differently” over uncontrollable factors than on merits/desert (Boss, 2011, p. 32). I believe that Connerly makes a better argument because race is something we cannot control while merit, talent, aptitude, etc. are something that we can develop in a person. If I base solely my reason on the advantageous that affirmative action gives according to race, it is likewise a biased one. Race is something I have come to know as directly related to skin color or similar genetic stock. There is no way we can do away with it except for the fact that many people were disadvantaged previously due to undue treatment (e. g., racial discrimination).
Despite the fact that I did not favor affirmative action based on the strong supporting arguments of Connerly, I would like to offer another instance why I may support affirmative action depending on certain preferences over its other key features. I will give a more popular example from Barack Obama. When he was still an Illinois Senator, Obama was a strong supporter of affirmative action. However, when he became US President, he moved away from his previous position of a race-based affirmative action toward an economic or class-based criterion affirmative action. So, what do I think why he changed his former view regarding race-based affirmative to a class-based affirmative action?
As I critically analyze the above example about Obama’s, I came with a fresh perspective such that affirmative action should be based on class rather than on race, which overcomes Connerly’s objections to race-based affirmative action. Without further ado, here is my analysis: As a former Illinois senator, Barack Obama was right for having strongly supported race-based affirmative action because he is black (which is obviously true). He got more votes because of that when he ran for the presidency and won. Now that he is President, he is in a better position to base affirmative action on class rather than on race. Thus, in basing affirmative action on class or economic considerations, Connerly is in a sense correct for advocating a merit-based system, but not in casting “ all of the other stuff” aside (Boss, 2011, p. 32). Students, who are in low socio-economic conditions, although they have the aptitude/talent/merit to excel in their studies, will benefit more on a class-based affirmative action.
With the above examples, I believe that I have given enough support why I am in favor of affirmative action, not just on race-based but also class-based affirmative action (which I will explain further below by giving an actual Supreme Court case and its final verdict).
Many institutions in the US embrace affirmative action. Prospective students who qualified under such a policy on affirmative action get good education. Because of affirmative action, there is an encouragement to diversity in a particular university’s admission criteria and equal opportunity in all its educational programs. At a larger scale, universities uphold statutory civil and constitutional rights of its students (and even staff), which is precisely the point whether there is affirmative action or not (but better if there is). At a closer look, I have not observed even in our own school that there is any negative impact on diversity in the student body and the quality of education because of affirmative action. This is because my own school does not allow inappropriate limitation, for example, in terms of participation in and access to social, cultural, or other campus-related activities based on my civil status, height, race, religion, etc. Still, it is affirmative action at the core. But it is hard to see it that way unless affirmative action is explicitly advocated.
Now, to make my point clear as to what is race-based and merit-based affirmative action, I will offer my own example of affirmative action in college admission criteria. I would assign 75% for admission test and special talent, 10% for grades / interviews / essays, 10% for economic / class / family status, and 5% for others (e. g., race), for a total of 100%. In details, I believe that some of the college admissions criteria for talents would apparently include those in the fine arts courses (which is the typical admission practice). Then, for experiences, I would include those in special / credit courses. Additionally, I would also consider the sectarian or non-sectarian leniency of private schools. For the ‘ Other’ criterion, I would include the alumni status of parents and their achievement (e. g., if one’s parent is a Nobel prize laureate) plus those other requirements mandated by laws, contract, grants, and so on. The passing score for admission in the college would be, for me, 80%.
Now, as an actual case, here is why I really favor affirmative action, given its pros and cons. An actual case, that of Grutter versus Bollinger (Cornell University Law School), is given below: (Note, however, that one should read first the case or an article as provided in the References):
If I am the plaintiff (Barbara Grutter), the arguments that I would make for myself in the court case are many. My race, my GPA is 3. 8 and my LSAT is 161. Still, under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act (1964), I was racially discriminated. I will state that although affirmative action is preferential treatment over race, it still runs counter to fairness. Admission to the University of Michigan Law School, or any other schools, should be based on merit to allow talents to flourish. Since America is a ‘ nation of democracy,’ each and everyone should be fairly and reasonably treated. Even though there are people who were disadvantaged racially, economically, socially, etc. for missing life chances or because of the supposed inequality, but that is not necessarily a sufficient reason why affirmative action or race preferences should be the ‘ only’ solution. Racial classification is undemocratic for me because people are treated differently over uncontrollable factors other than on merit.
On the other hand, if I were the defendant (University of Michigan), here are the arguments that I would make in my defense: First, as a refutation to Grutter’s allegation that our Law School uses race as a “ predominant” factor, it simply isn’t. As among the top law schools in the U. S., it only admits students who are among the most capable, promising, and respectful of others. Given our institutionalized admissions policy, it follows strictly from it without prejudice or discrimination whatsoever. However, our school has soft variables to consider, not to mention the professional discretions of its renowned and reputable officials. It is true that our school has a commitment to diversify student population in meaningful body, but does not imply discrimination in its slightest sense. Thus, the University of Michigan Law School encourages diversity in its admission criteria and equal opportunities in all its education programs. Further, it upholds the statutory civil and constitutional rights of all. University of Michigan only allows appropriate limitations in every aspect of participation in and access to social, cultural, or school-related activities and not on race, religion, socio-economic standing, etc. as long as any individual deserves to be admitted.
After weighing the above case to make explicit my side (in favor) of affirmative action, here is what the US Supreme Court’s reasoning for their decision or as to who won the case: According to my research, the side which won the case was the University. The Supreme Court’s reasoning for its decision is that the University’s affirmative action program was constitutional because its admission process was narrowly tailored to hold out to strict scrutiny. This means that it was constitutional of individualized evaluation of applicant. Additionally, the Law School’s promotion of student diversity was sufficiently compelling because it ensures reasonable inclusion of the racial minorities in our nation’s elite system; thus, greatly counters racial stereotyping. Put simply, the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action is only constitutional if race is considered as a plus factor in an applicant’s evaluation for class diversity.
Now going to the workplace setting, affirmative action is a good and advantageous thing to the disadvantaged individuals or group. Even when there are views that affirmative action perpetuates racism, I strongly believe that it is a positive discrimination where a policy favors equality among races, sexes, religions, colors, etc. Again, despite the claims of its detractors that it perpetuates racism because it focuses on one’s national origin rather than on the true concept of equality in terms of individual abilities, opportunities, merit system, and so on, it is the optimum solution for me. Hence, I will not another claim even when an authority, such as Portman says: “ The sin of affirmative action stems from the apparent perpetuation – indeed, institutionalization – of racism” (Portman, 2007, p. 156) considering that she has her own counterclaim of it. She added that even if such is the case, affirmative action envisaged what is meant by charity and goodwill and the need for further scrutiny (Portman, 2007, pp. 185, 192).
Based on the pros and cons, claims and counterclaims, actual court case, etc. I prefer affirmative action because it helps the disadvantageous individuals, people, or group to ‘ catch up’ to life’s chances. For me, affirmative action does correct some past mistakes due to race, class, gender, religion, and so on. One thing is needed in that institutional policies, parameters, or criteria regarding affirmative action should be made clearer to an informed public. It is true that we live in a democratic society with some apparent inequalities. The remedy should be made obvious to everyone that affirmative action is the optimum alternative to employ. Nonetheless, affirmative action should address whatever fairness issue is there so as to make it a more reasonable choice. There is nothing farther from the truth if we hold on to what we believe is right and beneficial to the majority of us.


Boss, J. (2011). THiNK: Critical Thinking and Logic Skills for Everyday Life (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill Education.
Cornell University Law School (n. d.). Grutter v. Bollinger (02-241) 539 U. S. 306 (2003). Retrieved from Legal Information Institute: http://www. law. cornell. edu/supct/html/02-241. ZS. html.
Portmann, J. (2007). A history of sin: its evolution to today and beyond. Plymouth: Rowman & Littlefield Pub.
Sandel, M. (n. d.). Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), n. d. Retrieved from Harvard University’s Justice: http://www. justiceharvard. org/resources/grutter-v-bollinger-2003/.
Steele, S. (n. d.). Affirmative Action: The Price of Preference. In J. Nadell, J. Langan, & E. Comodromos, The Longman Reader (Sixth ed., pp. 176-179). New York: Longman.