Student blasts affirmative action as 'disservice to diversity'

Toni Airaksinen

  • University of Massachusetts, Amherst student Bradley Polumbo claimed in a recent column for his student newspaper that affirmative action actually does a "disservice to diversity" by further stereotyping students of color.
  • Polumbo, aware on the unpopularity of his opinion among his peers, vows to continue to speak up on the topic, saying he "won't be silenced by the campus mob."
  • A student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst recently called for an end to affirmative action, arguing that “students of color don’t need special treatment.”

    In a column for The Daily Collegian Wednesday, Bradley Polumbo argues that affirmative action does a “disservice to diversity” by “differentiating along ethnic lines, rather than treating all students the same.”

    "These imbalances are unjust, but so is stereotyping people of color. Affirmative action does just that.”   

    [RELATED: Prof: Affirmative action ‘not necessary or desirable’]

    “With affirmative action and countless other diversity-based policies in place nationwide, why haven’t college campuses made more progress?” he asks, calling the answer “simple” because “affirmative action, and policies like it, exacerbate racial division by differentiating along ethnic lines, rather than treating all students the same.”

    Further, Polumbo argues that affirmative action, despite its intention of addressing “racial imbalances” in society, only adds to the stereotyping of black students.

    “Proponents of affirmative action argue that we need to factor race into college admissions to address the racial imbalances that undoubtedly still exist in our society,” Polumbo writes. “These imbalances are unjust, but so is stereotyping people of color. Affirmative action does just that.”

    [RELATED: History course attributes GOP affirmative-action stance to racism]

    Polumbo, undoubtedly taking an unpopular approach to the issue, told Campus Reform that he was motivated to write his column after encountering many students who “are too afraid of backlash from the leftist campus mainstream to speak out.”

    “I write for them, and to challenge liberal students to engage with my ideas, even if only to make their understanding of their own position more complete,” explained Polumbo, who has also written about issues of free speech and outrage culture for the school newspaper.

    He went on to explain that he believes affirmative action policies should be abolished because they “set up students of color to be viewed as tokens of diversity, rather than as peers who got in on their own merit,” when in reality, “minority students are just as capable of getting into college under a race-blind system in 2017” as anyone else.

    [RELATED: Poll: even minorities oppose affirmative action]

    Notably, while Polumbo is opposed to race-based admissions, he would be open an affirmative action policy based on socioeconomic status, arguing that students’ achievements should be viewed in light of their resources.

    “Some students had access to SAT prep classes and elite private schools, while others worked full-time jobs to support their family,” he elaborated. “These things much more accurately contextualize a student’s academic record than the pigmentation of their skin."

    Although this might seem unfair, Polumbo believes that socioeconomic-based affirmative action is much different in spirit.

    “Making distinctions between students based on the resources they’ve had available to them is a very different proposition from differentiating along the lines of race, gender, or sexual orientation,” he asserted.

    Despite the backlash he has faced on campus, Polumbo is determined to continue to speak up about the issues he cares about, saying “I won’t be silenced by the campus mob.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Toni_Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen

    Toni Airaksinen is a New Jersey-based Campus Reform contributor, and previously served as a Senior Campus Correspondent. Her reporting focuses on campus First Amendment, Title IX, Equal Opportunity, and due process issues, and her stories have been profiled by numerous outlets including Fox News, The New York Post, PBS News, and The Washington Examiner.
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