Letter to the editor: Race vs. money in college admissions decisions

Because of the advantages conferred by wealth, I think it is more important to give special consideration to impoverished students than racial minorities.

by Letter to the Editor

Affirmative action has been under fire recently due to the lawsuit filed against Harvard alleging discrimination against Asian Americans. While I do think that there are good arguments on both sides, I think colleges should be focusing more on economics than race when making admission decisions. I conceive of affirmative action as something looking to benefit those who are the worst off, which racial minorities tend to be because of America’s legacy of racism. However, while we do not live in a totally race-neutral society, there are certainly very rich members of every racial group who share a plethora of privileges. 

For example, suppose two applicants are identical on paper, with the same grades, extracurriculars, etc., but one is black with millionaire parents and the other is white and their family lives in poverty. In this case, I think there is certainly something to be said about the white student being at a greater societal disadvantage than the black student. With the understanding the money can buy tutors, superior schooling and opportunities to network, I think there is a huge disadvantage in the admissions process for poor students that can outweigh the inequalities minority students face. Furthermore, being in a wealthy family eliminates barriers many poor students have to overcome. I had many classmates who had to work to help their parents pay bills or didn’t have access to the internet at home because their family couldn’t afford a computer. Essentially, because of the advantages conferred by wealth, I think it is more important to give special consideration to impoverished students than racial minorities. 

Andrew Bergen is a student at the University of Minnesota.

This letter to the editor has been lightly edited for style and clarity.