Affirmative Action by Alan Marzilli

By Alan Marzilli

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Despite the invalidation of the university’s undergraduate affirmative action plan in the Gratz decision, many proponents of affirmative action considered the University of Michigan decisions an important victory. In the years since the Bakke 50 Promoting Diversity Helps Education, Business, and Democracy decision, many universities had based their affirmative action plans on Justice Powell’s model of diversity, and the University of Michigan cases made it the law of the land. However, the University of Michigan decisions held only that states may institute affirmative action plans—not that they must do so.

Preferences deepen racial divides. Opponents of affirmative action say that racial preferences deepen the racial divides that exist in society, because in any setting in which affirmative action operates, the abilities of favored groups and nonfavored groups tend to differ greatly. Dinesh D’Souza, a vocal critic of university affirmative action Efforts to Promote “Diversity” Harm Society 47 policies, writes that preferences do not increase the number of minorities who attend college, but instead cause the “misplacement” of many minorities in colleges for which they are not academically prepared.

Affirmative action is needed to combat workplace discrimination. Currently, many public and private employers operate affirmative action programs in which they give special consideration to minorities. These can take the form of hiring preferences, special efforts to recruit minorities, and even internship programs designed 37 38 AFFIRMATIVE ACTION exclusively for minorities. Why should employers use affirmative action programs when there are many laws against discrimination? Supporters say that so-called equal opportunity laws are broken constantly, as employers silently discriminate in hiring, pay scales, job duties, promotions, and firing.

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