The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution states that “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States… nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of laws.” A situation which the leaders of the nation vowed to prevent is unfolding in the state of California at this very moment.
A recent amendment to the California constitution (the California Senate Constitution Amendment No. 5, or SCA5) is the cause of said situation. If passed, the amendment would allow for California state colleges to give preferential treatment to applying students based on their ethnicity, national origin or sex. The act was just passed through the senate on March 6, and awaits clearance in the assembly.
SCA5 would specifically delete provisions of Proposition 209, which was passed in 1996 and prohibits the state government from considering race, sex or ethnicity when dealing with public education. This means that it would be easier for a racial minority, such as Hispanic or African American student, to get accepted into a college than it is for an Asian American student to. If SCA5 is enacted, Asian American admission would decrease from 36% to 13%, according to globaltimes.cn. If an Asian student was completely qualified in every field, he or she would not be allowed to enroll if the Asian American student limit were reached, or if another student of a different minority group with not necessarily the same qualifications wished to attend the same school.
The amendment SCA5 was passed to promote racial diversity and better represent minorities on campus. I do believe that most people genuinely support equality in public education. However, the form this genuine concern takes is not assisting minorities so much as it is directly harming Asian Americans, and therefore spreading more racial inequality across the entire state.
My upbringing as an Asian American attempted to cultivate within me a sense of competition and drive all for the sake of getting into a good college. In my personal opinion, part of the newly immigrated Asian culture is that one must work and study hard in school to seek a higher education. That is not to say other cultures do not encourage the same. But the SCA5, by requiring schools to judge a student based on his or her ethnicity or sex rather than his or her academic and extracurricular qualifications, is an attack on culture and is extremely backwards in its attempt to relieve racial inequality in state schools. If passed, I can only imagine how much more competitive students will be, knowing that their chances of getting into certain colleges are dramatically decreased.
In no way am I saying that ethnic minorities such as Latin Americans do not deserve more governmental action to expand their opportunities. I am aware that many Asian Americans do “dominate” California state schools; however, they have done so on account of their own hard work and effort, just as Hispanics or African Americans going to the same school have done so as well. Passing an amendment that requires discrimination against one race for the sake of another not only oppresses one culture but also belittles and degrades the other.
I see SCA5 as the government smiling paternally upon a non-Asian student, offering a hand and saying, “It’s alright, we’re helping you. Don’t worry about your grades, we are giving you an advantage because we don’t think you could have made it otherwise.” Maybe instead of cutting back one race’s opportunities, the government could invest in more funding, scholarships, and free educational classes for all students who need help financially or academically due to their respective environments. Asian Americans are not superior to any other race in terms of intelligence. The stereotype of Asians being 4.0 machines is the result of generations of strict parenting and self-motivation. No one race is born more capable than the other, and no one race should be treated like a child unable to reach the tallest cupboard on his own.
Students in this generation study harder than ever before. The people who are accepted in the colleges of their dreams have truly worked for it; some study until the clock hits the AMs every night, others practice their sport so often they have no energy for anything else and others invest all their time and effort into community projects. It is both rigorous and ridiculous at the same time, this ongoing, suffocating competition that forces teenagers to survive on less than six hours of sleep per night. Students, now more than ever, should receive the education they work for, with no limitations on their opportunities, especially limitations based on race and gender–aspects that students cannot control.
Written by STACEY YU