The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Affirmative Action:
A Scapegoat to Distract Us

Mar 31, 2003

Reactionary politicians point their fingers at "affirmative action" while yelling that "preferences" are unfair. They claim they stand for "equality of opportunity." What a joke–coming from people who defend the biggest inequity of all–money.

From beginning to end, money or the lack of it is what determines who goes to the universities.

Children of the wealthy go to the best elementary and high schools, have the best tutors. They travel and have access to and leisure time for all the interesting things the world has to offer. All this is why many do well on admissions tests. And this is by far the biggest inequality when it comes to getting into college. And it puts barriers in the way of children from the working class, black and white, who don’t come from such a background.

But that’s only the beginning of the inequities. Many universities, while giving the impression that they are setting "high standards," pack their schools full of kids of wealthy donors with bad grades.

At Harvard, Princeton, Notre Dame and other elite universities, children of graduates (alumni) are given "preference." They get accepted at a rate double or triple that of other applicants.

Duke University, ranked in the top ten in the country, admits it denies admission to about 600 high school valedictorians every year. Yet at Duke, 52% of last year’s freshman class had parents who, on top of paying $35,000 in tuition and room and board, were able to donate ADDITIONAL money to the university. These rich applicants were held to a lesser admissions standard than star athletes!

Affirmative action or scholarships for the working poor, white or black, don’t begin to make up for all these inequalities. The university represents and reinforces the society it lives in. And that society is divided into social classes and suffers from racism.