Civic Issues 1: Affirmative Action

For this civic issues blog, I chose topic of education. I will focus on mainly secondary education and the racial/diversity aspect of college life. For my “This I Believe” podcast, I spoke about how I am a strong advocate for the abolishment of affirmative action, so I will start off there.


Some background information on this topic is necessary in order to form or express opinions about it. Currently, public and private universities can use race as a consideration factor in the college admission process. This was the case for decades as affirmative action sprung up a result of the civil rights movement, and was unchallenged until 2003 where we had two important Supreme Court cases dealing with the University of Michigan.


The two cases were Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger. Without going into the intimate details about the case, I will explain the effect of each case. It was common at the time for schools and universities to have a point-based admission system. Simply put, if you had a GPA above 3.0 you got a certain amount of points. If you had a 4.0 you got even more. Being captain of your sports team gave you some points while having a disciplinary record may lose you some points. At the end of the day, if you didn’t have X number of points, you would not be admitted. At the time, University of Michigan Law School had this point system, but also gave points based on race. If you were white you simply got no points while minority races received more points because of their race.


Well this bias system of admissions was bound to make some people angry, and it was in 2003 where we saw a movement against it. The first case, Grutter, was simply protesting the use of race as a factor in admissions while the second case, Gratz, protested the point system. The Supreme Court’s decision was one that tried to satisfy the most amount of people it could, but upheld affirmative action. The Court “reaffirmed that universities may take race into consideration as one factor among many factors when selecting incoming students.” While stating that the point system was “not narrowly tailored to achieve the university’s asserted interest in diversity.” ( In plain English, they said that schools can consider race as a factor but not use the point system.


If you are like me, you are scratching your head wondering why this is was ruled the way it was. If schools are allowed to consider race, then why not use a point system? Does that make it less constitutional? The Court thought so. That’s all that matters. The reason why the Court ruled in favor of affirmative action is because by providing a diverse learning environment, a university can provide a better learning environment. And since the primary goal of an academic institution is to provide an education, this was constitutional.


I really do understand this side of the argument and I feel both sides of this issue make valid points, which I will get into in the next edition of this blog.


Today, the issue of Affirmative Action has been brought back into the Supreme Court in the case Fisher v. University of Texas. In this case, a young woman is claiming that she was not admitted into the university because of her race and that it is a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment. She claims to have been deprived of opportunity because of her race and that if race was not considered in admissions, she certainly would have been admitted. The ruling on this case could be coming up in the next few months and could potentially change the admissions process for high school students if the Court changes it mind.


Like I said, I will go into the debate of this issue next week, but I do pose a question:

Is it constitutional/does it deny non-minorities Equal Protection if they are denied from a university ONLY because of their race so that the university can foster a diverse and positive educational environment?

WIP Response to video

The guy in this video makes some very interesting points that are very hard to argue against. He suggests the idea that labels are created by our government and other political  bodies in order to create a certain connotation about a policy related issue. He continues to say that the people who create these labels understand the power that a label can have and that is why they do it. I completely agree with him and he uses many examples to strengthen his claim. What I agree with as well is that he says labels like these impede true discussion. Because the labels emotionally charge people up, it makes it harder for people to have a sensible, and rational conversation about the topic. He finishes with the end claim that the new labels for guns are just a coverup for the fact that people are the ones who are responsible. Again, I agree with him, but its important to think critically about his claim. Even though individuals are responsible for creating gun violence, does that mean nothing should be done? A question to ponder…

The Classics: Frank Darabont Style

You may recognize the name Frank Darabont from a show most of us know and love (and that is returning very soon). Frank Darabont is the director of the Walking Dead, and for all of us who watch the show, I think we can all agree he has created a fantastic series. But did you know Darabont has made more than just that tv show? In fact, Darabont has created over a dozen tv shows and Hollywood movies, including two of my absolute favorites: The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile.


Frank Darabont

First off, let me just say that if you love anything and everything that Morgan Freeman does, then you absolutely need to watch these The Shawshank Redemption. I believe that  it is one of the best Freeman has ever done in his lifetime. That said, he is not the only one that makes this movie fantastic. The film is one of those rare films that draws its audience in from the very beginning and keeps them caged until the end. Darabont’s classical dramatic filmmaking style makes this film an instant classic among audiences of all demographics. Everyone who has had a struggle in life that they felt was unfairly put upon them can relate to this movie that will end up giving you hope in hopeless situations.

Shawshank Redemption

The Green Mile has a similar theme of hope in a world of hopelessness. In fact, there are a good amount of parallels between these two movies in themes and filmmaking style. However, instead of Morgan Freeman, this one has Tom Hanks. Another superstar actor who is one of my favorites. This film creates an atmosphere for the audience that is impossible for the audience to ignore or dislike. If you are ever in a setting where you want to watch just a genuinely good, all around, feel-good movie, I would highly recommend these two. They are a must see in our lifetime.



WIP & This I Believe

For the work in progress this week, I believe that we were supposed to talk about the online forum we were going to use for our online deliberation. I chose To me, it seems like the best site to use because the people on in generally respect each other’s opinions. I looked at a few threads and most of them are formal, which tend to draw in intelligent people as opposed to a quick informal site that people quickly post on with no knowledge. I think I am going to end up focusing on something about the budget or spending, although the site has a wide range of topics to debate on.


And on another note, by This I Believe Post: (feel free to comment if you agree/disagree.)


Cloud Atlas

In our cinema today, it is rare that a movie comes along that can be entertaining while having a deep impact on your view of life. It is rare that a new movie forces its audience to view life from a different prospective and even allow the audience to learn about themselves. Well a new movie that fits this category that you may have never heard of is Cloud Atlas (and it just happens to be playing at the HUB this weekend). DO NOT watch this movie if you are looking for a fun time-killer. It will force you to think deep and critically about life and the nature of humanity. In this German (non-Hollywood) three hour long masterpiece, you will be drawn into an experience that very few movies have achieved.


I will try to give information about the movie without giving away any plot. This piece is very unique in that the directors use several principal actors (like Tom Hanks and Halle Berry) to play many roles throughout the film. All at once, there are about half a dozen plot lines going on taking place in different generations of mankind, from hundreds of years ago to present to the far distant future. In all the plots, the same actors are used to portray different generational struggles. What comes out of this movie is that although times are different, and everything in a past generation may seem distant and irrelevant, Man and the destiny of Man is always the same.

Cloud Atlas is one of those films that you could come up with at least a dozen different implicit and explicit themes after watching it. But don’t. Let this film mean what it means to you, and get as much as you can out of it. Get lost in the world of Cloud Atlas and you will surely be pleased.


Grade: A


This I Believe Draft

Like most people in America do today, I believe that no person should be deprived of opportunity based on race. However, I also believe in the compliment of that statement in that no person should be given an opportunity based on race as well. This a political debate happening in Washington today, coined by the phrase “Affirmative Action”. Our government currently allows employers to put preference on an employee of minority race for a position over non-minorities regardless of merit so that the company can be diverse and look as though it is non-discriminatory. This issue of Affirmative Action is also pertinent to the life of a high school student trying to get into college. It seems like more than just a year ago when I was filling out my college applications and writing all my college essays the night before the application was due. The counselors told me to mix my applications between safe schools I knew I could get into, moderate schools, and “reach” schools that I probably wouldn’t be accepted by. As I filled in these applications, there were certain things all of them had in common. Name, age, birthdate, GPA, all of which made sense to me, except one: race. Why must race be a factor of me getting into the school? As I went through my research of these schools, I became even more disturbed. I wished to apply for merit scholarships that I felt I earned from my hard work in high school. Every school had a list of at least a dozen scholarships to apply to, but I rarely qualified for more than one. Most of these scholarships were for “diverse” students from “diverse” backgrounds. You must be African American, or Hispanic, or Native American, or Pacific Islander to apply. Why could I not apply? Why do others have to opportunity to get this scholarship money, or have a better chance of getting into this school over me? If I was not a white male, I would have had more opportunities in the college application process, regardless of my high school merits and accomplishments, and I believe that is wrong. I believe affirmative action is a process that schools and employers use to promote equality through inequality. I believe that depriving someone of an opportunity because of their race is just as immoral as giving others special opportunities because of their race. I believe the notion of affirmative action is immoral because I believe in true racial equality.

Django Unchained Review

If you haven’t made it to the theaters yet to see Django Unchained, you should certainly do so. This movie came out several weeks ago and is directed by Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino has always been a director that has a very unique style and cinematic technique. Earlier in the year we watched a movie by Spike Lee who also has an unorthodox style of movie-making similar to Tarantino. That said, if you have seen another tarantino film and disliked it, don’t see Django.

Django is a movie about a slave from early 1800s America who is bought and freed, and his struggles with his new freedoms. He is propelled into a life in which he must make split-second decisions to survive, and in a world in which a freed former slave must fight for respect. Now anyone that has ever seen a Tarantino film can assume that it is not going to be an emotional Spielberg drama film with a thousand different deep messages in it. Most of the criticism of this film comes in that Tarantino uses too much comedy, and makes the film too unrealistic to provide the audience with a deeper meaning. I do not buy into this, however. The movie industry today has made film genres more rigid and left less room for films that blur genre lines. Today, many critics and individual viewers believe that films should provide a deep meaning for the audience to get out of it. Where have the days gone where we go to a film to simply be entertained? Django Unchained is a downright entertaining film that you will probably not find a deeper meaning in, but the entertainment was enough for me. Along with great acting performances by Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo DiCaprio this a must-see movie.




VERDICT: Worth seeing in theaters or purchasing when


I believe that there is no real right answer. This also implies that I also believe that there is no wrong answer. In our culture, we place too much emphasis on what is considered “right” and what is “wrong”. Many people see problems as having one solution, whether simple or complex. There is no better example of this in America than our politics. Our two-party system has created a political environment in which each debatable issue has two separate opposing sides, one on the left, the liberals, the democrats, and one on the right, the conservatives, the republicans. Those on the left see the left as the correct side and the right as incorrect. Likewise, the republicans refuses to think their position is wrong or that the democrats may be right. Both sides think their view of government is the best. But I don’t believe either is right. There is no solution that is best. “Best” is a subjective term that is effected by one’s view of the world and their life experiences. What some may consider best, others may not. This brings up the simple question, “Who is this best for?” There is no solution to a problem in society in which everyone receives the “best” outcome, therefore, there is no right or wrong answer to the problem. For there to be a right answer, there must be an ideal solution. For there to be an ideal solution, everyone must be happy. There is no right answer.  Only when our policymakers realize that their answers aren’t right and don’t make everyone happy, will both sides be able to compromise and progress and create a government that responds to the needs of a nation as a whole.