THE SANTA CLARA
February 25, 2016
I can’t speak for all minorities in higher education, but I can speak for myself.
I have never felt like I didn’t deserve to get into Santa Clara. If someone asked me why I got into this school, I would say it’s because I earned competitive grades, participated in extracurriculars and (more or less) fit the type of student a Jesuit institution looks for.
Those against Affirmative Action imply that I’m only here because Santa Clara needs to fill a quota. That is insulting to every student at this school because it reduces our worth to skin color.
As a Latina first-generation student, my intelligence and dedication are constantly put into question. Minority students have to work twice as hard to prove they belong and earn the same level of praise as our white classmates. We worry about being put on trial by every new person, classmate and professor we encounter who might possibly hold some key to our success.
Even from the beginning of the application process, we must prove that we have the smarts and drive to succeed.
We hope our ability to overcome adversities, like underfunded schools, demonstrates to admissions offices that we won’t drop out at the end of first quarter. We have to prove we can hang on. For other students, it’s implied that they can.
So it’s true: admission into college for minority students isn’t completely colorblind because success must be measured in context.
Other factors must be considered because we have to actively work against identity threats that hold us back. We worry about fulfilling stereotypes, assimilating poorly or failing to stand out enough to get the same opportunities as our white counterparts.
Our nation claims to be a meritocracy, but the oversimplification of “work hard, and you’ll succeed” doesn’t hold the same amount of truth for everyone. In America, true meritocracy isn’t possible because its starting premise is false.
We don’t begin our lives at the same place—we are born into different races, social classes and communities. These factors influence and limit our options in life. Denying this basic fact is like saying the earth is flat.
Still, the meritocracy illusion keeps those at the bottom in their place without squashing their hopes of one day living where the grass stays green.
Minority students can speak for themselves. Though undermined by the powerful, we have our own voices and we can explain our mindsets if you ask us. I’m all for healthy debates with well-thought-out arguments. But denying us equalizing benefits due to misplaced fears does nothing to improve our country.
Giving us access to society’s privileges won’t steal someone else’s, there’ll just be more people living on greener lawns.
Perla Luna is a freshman Sociology major.
Articles in the opinion section represent the views of the individual authors only and not the views of The Santa Clara or Santa Clara University.