Rich, White Harvard Student Bravely Rallies Against Affirmative Action

Illustration for article titled Rich, White Harvard Student Bravely Rallies Against Affirmative Action

The Harvard Crimson, one of Harvard's student-run newspapers, recently published an opinion piece by student Sarah Siskind titled "Affirmative Dissatisfaction. Affirmative action does more harm than good." OK, sure, I'm always up for a good debate. Let's see what she has to say.

Race-based affirmative action attempts to target these groups: the discriminated against, the poor, and those with unique experiences and intellectual merits. However, affirmative action is fundamentally flawed because it uses race instead of targeting these groups themselves. Less academically qualified applicants should be treated as such, unless they come from poorer households and therefore do not have access to the same amount of resources as other applicants. However, this would be class-based affirmative action, not race-based.

Helping those with primarily low academic qualifications into primarily academic institutions makes as much sense as helping the visually impaired become pilots. How would you feel if you were assured before going into surgery that your surgeon was the beneficiary of affirmative action in medical school? I do not see why higher academic institutions should lower their standards for admission.


Normally I fight against the urge to pillory a teenager for writing dumb shit on the internet, but this girl, she will always have everything, and thinks it's because she deserves it. She's in dire need of a wake-up call because her little privileged libertarian bubble is painfully embarrassing, misguided, and straight-up delusional. Also, there's part of me that's convinced this is straight up parody — she's like a straw man. She is the white chicks from White Chicks, right? Keenan, you in there? Because, GOOD ONE, QURRRRRL.

You know what I find most offensive? I'm for affirmative action, though I've heard interesting arguments about why it's problematic and should be tapered off, and I accept that it's not a perfect system, BY FAR. But this woman, this is just a joke to her. And it's not even a good one. The worst part is that her flip, insincere opinions are about something that doesn't affect her life in any meaningful way but matters a great deal to people who aren't her. Leave that shit to PJ O'Rourke, this is just TIRING.

Does this woman even understand what it would mean to a family to send their kid to Harvard, as the first person in the family to go to college? Does she know, in that sense, it targets opportunity deficit, and not skin color? Does she know that the biggest indicator of a kid going to and graduating from college is if their parents have? Does she even begin to understand what it's like to be in a family where you would be the first person to dream that big?

A comment on the Crimson piece from "BrownAndProud" sums it up perfectly:

You know what keeps me up at night Sarah? The knowledge that no matter how hard I work, how much I learn, and how well I do here at Harvard the fact that my admission to the college was based on Affirmative Action will always mean to you, and those that agree with your views, that I am de facto less qualified and less intelligent than those students who did not directly benefit from AA. The facts that I got a perfect score on the SAT, straight A's in high school, and volunteered at local middle schools as a mentor for over 300 hours, while holding a job at McDonald's- will mean nothing when compared to the hundreds of other qualified applicants who also did all this, AND many other amazing things I could never imagine having the resources to achieve (working in labs, playing instruments, creating small business etc.)

What it comes down to is the unjust truth that when an equally intelligent and qualified applicant stood beside me in the eyes of the admissions office, I was chosen because of the color of my skin. They could have flipped a coin to decide between me and that white applicant who also had a perfect score on the SAT, but instead they chose what appears to you an equally random selection criteria- but an infinitely more unjust method to all those "minorities" that don't get a fair shake. I'm sorry this seems unfair to you. Life isn't fair in admissions criteria, it seems, just as life wasn't fair when I had to walk myself to my local public library to prepare for the SAT using past, written-on editions of prep books. If I had asked my parents who were struggling to pay the rent and the electric bill on 16k a year for money to take a prep course, they would have laughed at me, so I did the only other thing I could do. I made the best of what I could with what was given to me. And I continue to do the same here at Harvard, everyday.


Sarah Siskind is one of the most dangerous types of rich white people. She has absolutely no empathy; she can't look one inch outside of her little world and see that most people aren't born rich or white, and how much harder that makes their American lives. She just doesn't get it, and she refuses to try.


Instead, she is a snide, rude little baby, who uses her words to rally against one of the few things that lets people elevate their social and economic situations. You go, girl.

It reminds me of Romney's 47 percent comment and what's so wrong with rich white people who we are all very happy and rich and believe that they've worked very hard to hire the right people to keep their money fat and happy. As Tom Scocca wrote in his excellent Slate piece "Why Do White People Think Mitt Romney Should Be President?", "If there's one thing white people have learned from decades of being targeted by campaigns, it's that someone, somewhere, is trying to cheat them. This is the idea behind Romney's 47 percent remarks in that appearance-America is divided between regular, productive folks and the people who are victimizing them."


It all boils down to the fact that there are some rich white people who hate anyone else succeeding. You see, they believe that there's a limited amount of success to be had, and when you take that idea away from them, what are they left with?

Oh, an even playing field? That couldn't possibly be fair.

Affirmative Dissatisfaction. Affirmative action does more harm than good. [Harvard Crimson]



People seem to be pathologically incapable of acknowledging the privilege associated with being white. Because slavery ended nearly 150 years ago, we passed the Civil Rights Act, and we have a black president CLEARLY we live in a post-racial country. Nope. Sarah did it all by herself when, in reality, she was born on third base and thinks she hit a triple.

Past is prologue. We were all born into a world ripe with meaning and history that deeply affects us all. Affirmative action may be flawed, but attempting to address centuries of discrimination has always sounded like a good idea to me.