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Jordan Stella

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Should the U.S. continue to employ Affirmative Action, or should private schools be allowed to discriminate?

Affirmative action refers to policies that take factors including "race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation or national origin" into consideration in order to benefit an underrepresented group, usually as a means to counter the effects of a history of discrimination. (Wikipedia definition). In the U.S., these policies have led to an increasingly difficult situation for students applying to college; both types of universities (public and private) are being subjected to these outlandish policies which, in my opinion, represent the government overstepping its boundaries.

By definition, a private university is PRIVATE; it exists thanks to the donations of private investors, not thanks to government grants. These types of schools should not be subject to the same principles as public schools, since they are not government-run. Just like every individual is born with certain inalienable rights, so to are corporations or groups formed inside a free society. A private group should be able to discriminate if it so chooses.

Further, affirmative action attempts to make up for past wrongs by committing the same deed. By giving favor to minorities, one is still separating them from the rest of the population, and ultimately is discriminating against those not of the minority groups. Some people call this positive discrimination, but in my book discrimination is discrimination and should be stopped.

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  • Aug 15 2011: I don't want to sound hostile here but the simplest way to put this is this:

    the reason you don't understand the human element you are missing is because you just don't understand /that/ you don't understand it.

    That's fine, nobody is born with a profound understanding of the complexities of human nature or enough experience with other cultures or environments to truly understand until and/or if they find themselves in that environment so i don't expect that to change.

    But here's the deal.. this is TED, this is not some political blog site or youth group where you can argue about things you barely understand in an attempt to learn from others. The majority of the people here are well past that point in life and the purpose of TED is to improve the world in terms of safety, security, technology, education, and overall happiness. Denying anyone an education or arguing that education should be harder to obtain for anyone, for any reason.. is exactly what the entire TED community is here to stop in society.

    And for the record, the reason the government has the right to make these rules is they are the ones bankrolling almost every single "private" college out there. Almost every single student aid loan in the united states is guaranteed by the federal government that if you don't or can not pay for it, they will. Do you really think Chase or Bank of America would give you $80,000 in unsecured money when you have no source of income, no credit history? they wouldn't loan you $100 without a guarantee or a co signer. No more than 1-2% of students in any school could afford it without financing and neither could their parents if they parents are willing to pay for it. Do you really think colleges would stay in business if they lost 98% of their students?

    Oh, and here's the kicker. If you were to run a truly private university with absolutely no government backed student loans you aren't required to follow affirmative action anyway, thus your entire argument is invalid.
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      Aug 15 2011: i would like to ask you not to speak in the name of TED community. you represent your own views, and nothing else.
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      Aug 15 2011: If you read the entire conversation, you would know that no one is arguing to deny education, nor is anyone arguing that education should be harder to obtain. We are only arguing that affirmative action (being discrimination) is a violation of rights (and in some of our opinions, an example of a government overstepping its boundaries).

      And may I ask where you get your statistics from? "Almost every single student aid loan". What kind of a statistic is that? Show me a good hard number. There are plenty of people like me who took out loans with cosigners that have nothing to do with the U.S. government. If the government didn't back loans, I believe that responsible parents would. Yes, they are taking a chance, because if their kid defaults their name is on it too, but still. You asked, would colleges stay in business if they lost 98% of their students? I ask you this: do you honestly believe that they would lose 98% of them? People found ways to pay for education in the past, the government isn't the only way.

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