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Young Republicans Club and Students Against Institutional Racism debate affirmative action

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Young Republicans Club and Students Against Institutional Racism debate affirmative action

Students listen intently as these two clubs discuss the merit of affirmative action.

Students listen intently as these two clubs discuss the merit of affirmative action.

Renata Shen

Students listen intently as these two clubs discuss the merit of affirmative action.

Renata Shen

Renata Shen

Students listen intently as these two clubs discuss the merit of affirmative action.

Nick Cloney, News Editor

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On Thursday, Feb. 7, the Young Republicans Club debated Students Against Institutional Racism (SAIR) in a spirited panel on the subject of affirmative action. The debate, moderated by social studies teachers Dr. Oyeshiku Carr and Marcie Miller, consisted of a five-member panel from each club.

Each side began with a two-minute opening statement. Then, the moderators posed several questions, which both sides had a chance to respond to. At the end, the students in the audience asked a few additional questions to both groups, and then each side gave a two-minute closing statement to finish out the debate.

Junior Kyle Makalusky delivered SAIR’s opening statement.

Makalusky said that institutional racism still affects many Americans, but affirmative action helps combat its prevalence.

“Affirmative action is one solution to our country’s prevalent issue of institutional racism, which is still a major problem today,” he said.

In the Young Republicans’ opening statement, senior Sam Esquivel emphasized the group’s rejection of discrimination.  

“The club supports diversity and condemns discrimination in its various forms,” Esquivel said. “However, we contend that affirmative action does not help ensure that public institutions are representative to the populations that they serve.”

Later in the debate, senior Coleman Jackson responded to a question on whether or not affirmative action helps promote the idea of a meritocracy. Esquivel, who responded before him, stated that the main purpose of a meritocracy is to put the most talented, hardworking individuals in positions to succeed.  Jackson, however, raised the issue of an individual’s “starting position” in life.

“Affirmative action is designed to help people from ethnicities and races that have been systematically oppressed throughout American history.  And as a result of that oppression, minorities like Blacks and Hispanics are often at a disadvantage to Whites from birth due to the distribution of wealth in this country,” Jackson said. “Minority students can work just as hard, or even harder, than competing White students, but since the playing field isn’t level to start with, you can’t really compare their results and pretend to have a meritocracy.”

During the closing statements, senior Caleb Lipsitt outlined the overall perspective of the Young Republicans Club.

“We strongly believe that whether a student is underprivileged or not has far more to do with their socioeconomic status than their race,” Lipsitt said. “Instead, a system that allots resources to public schools and supports poor students of all backgrounds would be much more beneficial than what is currently in place.”

In SAIR’s closing statement, Jackson acknowledged that the current system is not ideal, but contended that it is totally unfeasible to expect to be able to scrap it and rebuild it from the ground up without consequences.

“The current system is by no means perfect, and if we were given the chance to start over and do it all again, we could definitely make some improvements. But the government hasn’t dealt with this issue over the past 150 years. What are the chances they’ll do it in the next eight?” Jackson said. “Also, if we could snap our fingers and eliminate the achievement gap and the opportunity gap, that would be amazing. But that’s just not going to happen.”

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Young Republicans Club and Students Against Institutional Racism debate affirmative action