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Guest opinion: The race for equality

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, a tour group walks through the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The Justice Department has sided with Asian-American students suing Harvard University over the Ivy League school's consideration of
FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2012, file photo, a tour group walks through the campus of Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. The Justice Department has sided with Asian-American students suing Harvard University over the Ivy League school's consideration of race in its admissions policy.
Elise Amendola, AP

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy passed a law to rid the country of racial discrimination. Affirmative action was put into place to help those classes that are, for the most part, under attack and discriminated against and to give everyone an equal opportunity in life.

This was a very big step for America in creating better, and maybe even equal, opportunities for everyone. It said a lot about the progression that the country was making and its acceptability of those who were, in the past, not treated as well as others. It was time that everyone be treated equal and not be discriminated against for something they have no control over, such as where they are from and their race.

As time has gone on and the nation has changed, there have been different ways that government, businesses and universities have enforced this law. What was meant at first to help everyone receive more fair treatment has turned into a race for who can be the most diverse. It's not wrong to be diverse; Actually, it's a good thing. However, the problem that has arisen from this is it has become more important to be diverse than to make sure that everyone is given a fair and equal opportunity.

A law created to help those who historically haven't been treated as well has now become the source of a much larger problem.

Harvard University is now involved in a lawsuit over discrimination against Asian-Americans. The New York Times reported, “(The Justice Department) contends that Harvard has systematically discriminated against them by artificially capping the number of qualified Asian-Americans from attending the school to advance less qualified students of other races."

Universities across the country are limiting how many applicants of a certain race can be accepted into their schools. To these universities, it doesn’t matter as much who the most qualified is, but how diverse their schools can be.

Due to affirmative action, schools are required to have goals for diversity. This puts the schools in tough situations, since they are required by law to be diverse. Instead of accepting the most qualified students for their schools, they have gone to a system where they worry more about how diverse their schools appear.

Not only does affirmative action affect those who don’t get into the schools, but it can also have an effect on those who do get accepted. When schools settle for students who are less qualified so they can be more diverse, they are putting those students in tough positions. The academic demands may be very difficult at that university, and the student may not be ready.

Although this may not affect whether a student gets into their dream school, if schools find a balance in their admissions, this could help thousands achieve what they have been working toward their entire lives.

It’s better for society when a university can balance the need for equality with the desire to have diversity. The right balance allows the university to maintain its high standards, superior reputation and demanding curriculum. It also allows students to excel scholastically, bring prestige to the university and have success in life.