Zink: Affirmative action dangerously shortsighted


Sydney Zink, Columnist

The Supreme Court heard arguments last Wednesday over the propriety and legality of employing affirmative action in the college admissions process. Abigail Fisher, a white female rejected from the University of Texas at Austin, brought suit against UT claiming that she was denied admission while the university admitted less qualified minority students in furtherance of its desire to achieve a “critical mass” of minority students on campus.

I oppose the use of affirmative action in college admissions, the workplace and essentially any other setting. I am pleased that Fisher had the courage to revive this discussion, given the almost certainty that our hypersensitive, obsessively-politically-correct society would be quick to brand any white person willing to challenge this biased system of admissions as racist. In its effort to remedy the lingering effects of a more racially segregated past where one skin color was preferred over another, affirmative action has become its own insidious form of discrimination where the preference is not for one skin color over another, but for skin color over merit.  And merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part. Yet we of merit, affirmative action’s victims, are now the ones who feel pressured to be silent for fear of accusations of racism. It is this unfairly presumed racism that supports a false, warped argument in the policy’s favor that has enabled affirmative action to continue for as long as it has.

The presumed racism of upper-middle-class white people is drastically misaligned. In fact, today, in terms of direct statements of discrimination and disdain, one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities. There certainly is no shortage of people who identify Mitt Romney and “his people” as disgusting, horrible people who deserve no respect but rather a plethora of unflattering associations. For fear of being cloaked socially with the “RWP” mantle, many seem to hastily make apologetic claims of empathy with other groups and to desperately reject this likely-fitting title by scoffing disdainfully at “RWP” somewhere in their disclaimer.

Affirmative action is disrespectful to its beneficiaries and should be offensive. One’s race should not be the determining factor to what makes them acceptable, in the college admissions process or otherwise.  Who wants his or her entire range of hobbies, skills, talents and ambitions to take a backseat to his or her race, check marks on an application, irreparably skewing admissions officers’ attentions?  The dream of the Civil Rights Movement was that all people be judged by who they are rather than by the color of their skin. Removing skin color as a barrier to the otherwise qualified is not the same as allowing it to trump the otherwise more qualified. Affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.

While race is the target of most affirmative action programs, there are numerous small differences or disadvantaged affiliations that could benefit from such a preference if the desire is to compensate for all types of discrimination rather than race alone. Proponents argue that affirmative action is necessary to make up for centuries of slavery and segregation, in which virtually none of us living today were participants. Yet women, LGBT individuals, people of certain religious affiliations and others suffer presently in a society that remains as charged by differences today as in the past. The answer is not to award special preference to all of these individuals; it is to abolish affirmative action and to advance this country as the meritocracy that it must be for our future. We cannot afford to spend another generation, even another year, trying to make each other feel better about the past. In particular, youth-filled colleges are hardly appropriate environments to materialize such history-driven guilt trips.

UT rejected Abigail Fisher based on merit, but she says merit that was racialized – that is, merit categorized by racially motivated academic skews in a way that rejected Abigail in favor of lesser-qualified minority applicants with lower standards to meet. Sound familiar? I guess we only thought we had eliminated such discrimination nearly 50 years ago.

This column was published as part of a point-counterpart series. Read Jan Jaro’s column, “On campuses and in workplaces, affirmative action still vital.”

Sydney Zink is a Communication freshman. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].

Editor’s Note: Due to technical difficulties, a previous version of this column was briefly removed from The Daily’s website during the first week of November. The Daily has restored the original column with the first 284 comments replicated below.


Comments on The Daily Northwestern’s articles and opinion pieces are intended to encourage productive discussion. They are moderated and may be removed for offensive or profane content.

284 Responses to “Zink: Affirmative action dangerously shortsighted”

  1. This Is Awful on October 17th, 2012 12:07 pm

    “One’s race should not be the determining factor to what makes them acceptable, in the college admissions process or otherwise. Who wants his or her entire range of hobbies, skills, talents and ambitions to take a backseat to his or her race, check marks on an application, irreparably skewing admissions officers’ attentions?”

    It would have been nice if the Daily could’ve found a freshman who did a little more research. This was not the basis of the case, and in fact, race being the determining factor in admissions was thrown out by the Supreme Court a decade ago. The writer clearly neglects facts to back this racially-charged piece. Where is the mention that all those students “ahead” of her were in the top 10% of their classes? Try again, Syd. Maybe next time :)


    [the author is right] Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 3:57 am

    i agree with her. on a side note i don’t think the federal gov’t should get involved. telling states how to run their gov’t’s isn’t listed in article 1 section 8, so the feds don’t have the power. but the texas gov’t shouldn’t do it. a gov’t should never give certain rights based on skin color, age, gender, handicap, etc. it should see people as individuals, not as black or gay. that’s how slavery happened in the first place, the gov’t didn’t defend the rights of blacks.


    Booker T. Washington Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:21 am

    Slavery was well in place before the government. The founding fathers were hardly going to say “Hey while we’re at it, let us bereave ourselves of the black brutes who labor at farm and field under our behest .”


    colorblind Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:28 am

    This “colorblind” way of doing things is what has allowed the US to create a legal system where a disproportionate number of black males are sent to prison every year and then denied the right to vote. Colorblindness is a disease, and it should not be a social policy.


    colorful Reply:
    November 1st, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Hey colorblind, thank you so much for your comment. I agree with you entirely. I think race-charged issues require more focus groups, more research, and more exploration of the systemic impact of existing and previous policies than EVER before. Obviously Ms. Zink has some growing up to do and some perspective to gain, but her knowledge on this subject is telling of how poorly educated many of us are on the heart of historic and cultural constructs in this society.

  2. Ugh on October 17th, 2012 12:41 pm

    So the one argument, or rather, complaint, that is rehashed and repeated is that we should stop feeling bad about slavery because we weren’t involved? That’s all the writer thinks affirmative action is about? Clearly no research was done into institutionalized prejudice in higher education, or really, race, poverty, and higher education in general–or at least, any research doesn’t show up in this piece. I admit I don’t know as much as I should about the issue, but my mother is a former social worker and now works for an urban non-profit, and so even I would have more to back up a column about affirmative action. (But again, I wouldn’t, because I don’t think I know enough….) I get that this is an opinion piece, but even an opinion needs a clear, thought-out argument.


  3. LOL THIS IS EMBARRASSING on October 17th, 2012 12:49 pm

    I’m from Texas and I guarantee you the reason this Fisher girl was rejected from UT is because SHE WASN’T IN THE TOP 8% PERCENT OF HER GRADUATING CLASS. All Texas public universities automatically admit any Texan applicant who is in the top 8% of their graduating class, thus it’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get into UT if you aren’t, since they already automatically accept a huge number of people. And you honestly are absolutely crazy if you think people going “ugh rich white people” is ANYTHING compared to what a lot of minorities go through.


    Peter Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    Even UT stated that regardless of her race, she would not have been accepted…


    Julian Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:44 pm

    “Even if Abigail Fisher had received a perfect Personal Achievement Index score she would not have been admitted … because her Academic Index was simply not high enough,” says Gregory Garre, lawyer for the University. Garre, who served as U.S. solicitor general in the George W. Bush administration, says flatly that “Fisher would not have been admitted, no matter what her race.”



    Sarah Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Reality Check: UT has an appeals process set up for students outside of the top 8% who feel that they have been inappropriately denied a place at the university. I am also from Texas, and one of my white male friends who was in the top 9.5% of our class was initially denied admittance to UT. He went through the appeals process and was admitted because of his academic merit.

    The bottom line is quite simply that people who are denied admittance from UT have options, almost all of which don’t involve Fisher’s racially loaded argument.


  4. Miriamon October 17th, 2012 12:51 pm

    So, that awkward moment when “the lingering effects of a more racially segregated past” are still pervasive and profound.

    Man, I wish affirmative action weren’t necessary anymore. I wish we were truly color-blind, and race played no part in how we judge people’s trustworthiness, intelligence, and ability. But it does.

    Did you know, Sydney, that a study showed that when otherwise IDENTICAL resumes–one with a “white” name and the other with a “Black” name–are sent to employers for callbacks, the employers inevitably pick the ones with the “white” names? Did you know that people of color are less likely to have access to the opportunities–gifted summer camps, practice SAT tests, extracurriculars–that got people like you and me into Northwestern to begin with?

    I could go on and on, but I won’t. Take a class on sociology while you’re here. Please.


    Alumni Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    perfect response!


    No Thank You To Your Soc Class. How About An Econ Class Instead? Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    URM stands for under-represented minority for the purpose of the meta-study

    Peter Arcidiacono and Jacob l. Vigdor, Duke University, Dec 2008
    (“Does the River Spill Over? Estimating the Economic Returns to Attending a Racially Diverse College,” http://econ.duke.edu/~psarcidi/cb11.pdf, accessed 10/1712)

    We first examine the relationship between earnings and objective diversity measures. We focus on males, though selecting the sample on the basis of labor force participation rather than gender yields similar results. All specifications control for cohort average SAT scores, an indicator for whether the individual is Asian rather than white, and the respondent’s own SAT scores as reported by the institution. Table 1 examines the effect of institutionlevel measures of diversity on earnings.20 The first column shows results of a baseline specification using school-level diversity. The effect of URM share is large and negative but imprecisely estimated. The relatively large standard error reflects the small number of independent observations on institutional racial composition in this sample. Taken at face value, the coefficient suggests that a 1 percentage point increase in the share of URMs at a university decreases the earnings of white and Asian matriculants by more than 0.8%. Even though the standard error is large, we can rule out large positive effects of diversity on outcomes. Even at the upper limit of the 95% confidence level, the effect of a 1 percentage point increase in school-level diversity—which would be substantial—is only 0.4%. Other measures of college quality either have the expected signs or are insignificant. The average SAT math score of the school is positive, while the coefficient on the average SAT verbal score of the school is small in magnitude and statistically insignificant. Individual SAT scores are comparably stronger predictors of postgraduate earnings. Consistent with Arcidiacono (2004), we find a split effect of a graduate’s own SAT scores: higher math scores predict higher earnings, but higher verbal scores predict lower earnings.21 The point estimate suggests that Asian matriculants earn less than their white counterparts, but the effect is not statistically significant. The second specification adds a more complete set of control variables, including indicators for educational attainment, sector of employment, and categorical controls for major. Controls for educational attainment and training are common in the literature, and we include the sector controls to capture compensating differentials that may be associated with certain 20. Table A4 shows the results of equivalent specifications using institution-by-major-level diversity measures and institution fixed effects. 21. Arcidiacono (2004) provides an extensive discussion of this seemingly anomalous result. This result has also been confirmed in similar studies using different data sets; see, for example, Arcidiacono, Cooley, and Hussey (2008). types of jobs.22 In this specification, the estimated impact of URM share on earnings is still negative but very close to 0. This occurs because URM share proves to be a negative predictor of graduation, as we will show in the next section, and graduation is positively associated with earnings. The added controls also lower magnitudes of the coefficients on the school average SAT scores as well as coefficients on an individual’s own SAT scores. Higher educational attainment, with the exception of nonprofessional graduate degrees, is associated with higher earnings. Workers in the nonprofit and government sectors, and those who are self-employed, earn less. Are these negative point estimates unbiased estimates of the true causal effect of minority exposure on earnings? As discussed in the Introduction and subsequently, there are strong reasons to believe they are not. Within our sample, URM share tends to be higher at more prestigious and competitive colleges. This implies that URM share may be correlated with unobserved elements of college quality that positively influence earnings, over and above the impact of peer SAT scores. Our fundamental conclusion for this analysis, then, is that the effect of undergraduate exposure to URM peers is almost certainly not positive, given that our point estimates exclude all but the smallest positive effects, and we suspect that they are upwardly biased. With no evidence that the aggregate URM share has a positive effect on earnings, we now test whether the effect of exposure to URM students depends on the degree of similarity between white/Asian and URM students. The third and fourth columns of Table 1 test for this heterogeneity by dividing the student body into three unique groups for each white or Asian student. These groups consist of those with significantly higher SAT scores, those with significantly lower SAT scores, and those with similar SAT scores. The estimates in the third and fourth columns suggest that if there are benefits to be gained from diversity, they accrue through interacting with those who have similar academic background to one’s own. While the estimates here are noisy and generally insignificant, we see positive point estimates for the coefficients on URM share among those who have SAT scores similar to one’s own and negative estimates of the impact of URM share among students with SAT scores either significantly higher or lower than one’s own. The estimated effect of the URM share among those with significantly lower SAT scores is statistically significant in column 3 and suggests that an affirmative action-style policy that increased the proportion of low-scoring URMs by 1 percentage point would reduce the earnings of moderateto high-scoring whites and Asians by 1.3% while having at most a small positive impact on those low-scoring whites not displaced by the program. This coefficient does drop dramatically in magnitude and becomes insignificant when the additional controls are added in column 4. Once again, this can be attributed to the added control for graduation. As we will see in the next section, increasing the URM share of those with significantly lower SAT scores has a significantly negative impact on college graduation rates. In the Table A4 we report these same specifications using major-by-college variation and controlling for institution fixed effects. The same patterns emerge. Namely, at an aggregate level, the coefficient on URM share was negative and insignificant. Decomposing the effects shows positive signs only for the URM share of similar SAT scores, though none of the coefficients were sufficiently different from 0. The evidence as a whole suggests that, to the extent that exposure to diversity matters at all, preferential admission policies for URM students reduce rather than increase the aggregate social benefits associated with diversity. By definition, these policies move minority students away from campuses where their SAT scores would match those of other racial groups and toward campuses where their scores are significantly below those of other racial groups. This pattern could also explain the difference between our results and those of Black, Daniel, and Smith (1997, 2001). Their sample includes a broader array of nonselective universities, where racial differences in SAT scores will in general be less acute than in the highly selective colleges we study. Although these results are consistent with the view that exposure to similar-scoring URM students is most beneficial, there are at least two alternative explanations. First, exposure to diversity may be most important for lowscoring white and Asian students at elite colleges— those most likely to have URM classmates with similar SAT scores. This could occur because these students will have the most opportunities to profit from interracial interaction after college. We tested this hypothesis by directly interacting own SAT score with URM share. Instead of the negative sign predicted by this alternative explanation, the result is positive. A second alternative is that low-scoring white and Asian students attending elite colleges that practice more aggressive affirmative action are different from other students along some unobserved dimension. To test this possibility, we interacted own SAT score with school average SAT scores. Estimated effects are generally not significant. While it remains possible that below-average white and Asian students perform better only in those colleges with aggressive affirmative action policies, these results argue against any general pattern of an interaction between diversity and superior unobservables for low-scoring white or Asian students.


    Miriam Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    Dude, tl;dr, seriously. Summaries are your friend.


    Avi Goldberg Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Next time why don’t you cite this, and give a quickie paraphrase, instead of being sort of an asshat and posting an article that you don’t even take the time to reformat for this venue.

    I think what you’re trying to drive at is that it seems that there is no accrued benefit to white people for diverse universities, if not a negative benefit, while URMs (which is fancy for Black, Latino, AmerIndian?) do–so I could parse you as being on either side. Care to weigh back in?


    Burrcat Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    ITT: idiots complain because they think an abstract is too much reading.


    Yuki Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Actually, the author is in the same sociology discussion with me :(


    Robert Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:30 pm

    Well, no doubt, we can say that today certain races are favored over other races. There’s nothing we can do about that, and that’s unfortunate. I think that a lot of people are misunderstanding the point of the article. The point is that colleges have a quota of minority students that they need to admit. How do I know this? Personal experience. I had a friend who was considered as a minority. She was a B+ student, and I was an A+ student all throughout hs. I even had many extra curriculars and won many important music competitions. She did Global Kids for a year. She got into this one particular college with a full ride, and I didn’t even get admitted. We were both in the same school, and I was ranked as number 1, while she could have been 30 or 40. Our personalities were quite similar, and so was our parents’ financial situation. Enough said.


    puppy Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:35 pm

    I could be wrong, but aren’t quotas illegal nowadays? I’m pretty sure some white guy in California took care of that, didn’t he?


    Alumni Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:55 am

    affirmative action is not synonymous with quotas. I understand that the only thing you can possibly see different from your application to your minority friend’s is race, however it is impossible you wrote the same personal statement to get in. it’s not about quotas.


    Mande Reply:
    October 23rd, 2012 at 12:52 am

    Quotas were ruled unconstitutional back in 1978. Universities can consider race in acceptance, but if she really got a full ride and you didn’t get in, there’s something else you’re overlooking.


  5. Seriously? on October 17th, 2012 12:58 pm

    This article reeks of privilege. It is clearly written by someone who has never had to suffer from institutionalized racism or discrimination. I’m white, and I know It’s easy to ignore systematic discrimination when you’re not on the receiving end of it. But for god’s sake look around you and realize that not everyone gets the benefits you take for granted – benefits you receive because you were lucky enough to be born white in America.

    Also, trying to act like white people suffer from racism the same way minorities do is just embarrassing. If white people ever become systematically oppressed by another race, then maybe that argument will hold some weight. But since that’s never happened and you live in a country dominated by white ideals, that argument is garbage.


    Agreed Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    Thank you. Racism against whites is not a thing.


    Yuliya Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I would just like to point out that there in fact have been instances in history of white people enslaving white people. Ukraine would be one such example. Individuals where bought and sold, forced to work, families were forcefully separated (some of the general things one associates with slavery). Here is a source that I quickly found. Not the best explanation, but gets my point across. (http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/pages%5CS%5CL%5CSlavery.htm)


    Reply to Yuliya Reply:
    October 24th, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Yuliya, in Ukraine’s case and many other Eastern European countries or places that are racially homogeneous, people who are persecuted are not viewed as “white”. Perfect example are people defined as “gypsy” they are not considered members of the country and they are not racially defined the same. They experience a lot of racism, inequality, and mistreatment. Race is created by society, so if you study race and identity in different countries concepts of “white” change.


  6. Vanessa on October 17th, 2012 1:03 pm

    You know, I was ready to give her the benefit of the doubt, Im sure this girl is very nice and not a racist at all.

    I then read the article, and while I’m still sure she doesn’t think she’s a racist, using phrases like “our hypersensitive, obsessively-politically-correctsociety”, “unfairly presumed racism” really puts her very close to the edge of it. She’s only a freshman and I don’t know her or what her experience with people of color is, but she would really benefit from understanding the term “white privilege”.
    She then wrote this: “In fact, today, in terms of direct statements of discrimination and disdain, one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities.” Seriously?

    I am just beyond tired having to entertain white people when they try to tell me how I should feel about my experiences as a woman of color. Newsflash: racism isn’t dead and the idea that we have less inherent privileges is very true in this day.

    Sydney Zink, please please please check your privilege next time you decide to publish something in your school paper because what you say in your dorm room is not going to be taken the same way when you have everyone at NU (and alums) reading it.


    Amelia Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Well said. Thanks, from a white person who supports affirmative action 1000%.


  7. P on October 17th, 2012 1:05 pm

    Sydney, please Google the following before you write another article on a topic like this:

    1) White Privilege
    2) Institutionalized Racism

    Oh, and check your privilege at the door.


  8. P on October 17th, 2012 1:07 pm

    I should add, because you wrote “our hypersensitive, obsessively-politically-correctsociety” in regards to people who call out racism:

    please also look up

    3) gaslighting.
    4) derailing


    LJ Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    This is embarassing to NU! The fact that many people see affirmative action as reverse racism or skin over merit…
    and donor’s children
    all get their own special treatment, but minorities are STILL underrepresented! Every black, latino, native american,etc. student who is here is bright! They have merit! Schools don’t accept students who are not only performing with the top of the class but are able to excel at an elite university.
    Stats show that WHITE WOMEN have benefited most from affirmative action. And isn’t that who wrote this article…


  9. Lauren on October 17th, 2012 1:08 pm

    Sweetheart, I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you’re not 1) an idiot 2) racist scum.

    Take a sociology class while you’re here. This article is an embarrassment to you, our school, and The Daily. It’s well-written, but you are so uninformed about this topic, I cringed while reading this.

    May I recommend Legal and Constitutional History with Dylan Penningroth and Race, Class, and Gender with Lisa Calvente? You clearly have no idea what you’re talking about.


    dan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    it’s not even well-written! somebody needs to hide her thesaurus.


    Ugh Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:54 pm

    Yeah, was just going to say… Rambling, repetitive…


    Lauren Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Ha, okay, I really didn’t think it was well-written, I was just trying to be nice, because this girl is gonna get skinned and gutted in these comments. There goes that angle.


  10. Terrance on October 17th, 2012 1:14 pm

    ‎1. There a multitude of criteria considered in the college admissions process and “race” is not the end all be all of acceptance. 2. I may have my own “merit” by accumulation, but I am among the MANY whose intellectual capital was cultivated through my PARENTS’ expenditures on after-school programs, gifted & talented programs, and access to unique academic resources that are not available in underfunded and under-performing public schools (where a high concentration of Black and Latino youth are disproportionately represented). 3. Statistically speaking, White women have been the greatest beneficiaries of affirmative action policies. 4. This author completely ignores the disparity between suburban and inner-city schools and unequal challenges. 5. I graduated with a GPA well above a 5.0, performed and excelled at a variety of athletic and extracurricular activities and high school, and was fortunate to have parents who are both NU alumni. Please do not discredit my or my non-White peers’ success (stop limiting racial discourse to the Black-White paradigm) by limiting it to my skin color. Yes, affirmative action needs to be reformed, I’m ALL for reform. But don’t think for a second that race has no place in the equation. The “meritocracy” philosophy she references was the precise discourse affirmative action was created to counter in the first place. -_-


    not that i disagree Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    >I graduated with a GPA well above a 5.0


    grendel Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    lel meme arrows so edgy


    Nope Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:34 pm


  11. DONE.COM on October 17th, 2012 1:18 pm

    obviously this girl needs to take an af-am class in general. what a damn shame.
    All I can say is smfh smdh.


  12. Kate Donovanon October 17th, 2012 1:19 pm

    In discussing this article with a friend, this was said, and I can do nothing but applaud it for accuracy:
    “The thing about railing against affirmative action is, you’re implying that college admissions without affirmative action are completely fair and unbiased. Which is to say that people get admitted to colleges based on aptitude alone. Which implies that the disproportionate number of white students who get accepted are accepted because their abilities and intelligence are inherently superior to those of the disproportionate number of non-white students who get rejected. Which is to say, you’re being racist.

    So have fun with that.”


    K Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:53 pm

    Exactly what I was thinking while reading this. This is so on point.


    Alum Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    I disagree that this necessarily implies being racist. Even if the system were fair and unbiased and based totally on merit, a disproportionate number of white students being accepted does not imply that white people are inherently superior. It does imply that there is a cause for the discrepancy, which could be one of several explanations including whites having greater access to good schooling, tutoring, extracurricular activities/programs, and other things that develop exceptional college candidates. These examples still are issues of racism and to overlook them is a major problem (and probably part of the reason Affirmative Action was created), but I disagree that it implies the belief that whites are inherently superior.


    Anonymous Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    “disproportionate number of white students who get accepted” – [Citation Needed]

    Disproportionate to what? To the percentage of blacks in America? That is obviously going to be the case. Blacks on average do worse in school and aptitude tests, drop out of high school more often, and come from poorer backgrounds. These are facts, not opinions.

    “Implies that whites are inherently superior…” Say what? It’s because whites tend to come from better backgrounds, THAT’S WHY THERE ARE MORE WHITES IN UNIVERSITIES, NOT INHERENT ABILITY!


    p.s. some people might think this only exemplifies why we need AA but really it doesn’t. It shouldn’t be assumed that just because you are black that you come from a bad background. There are many blacks of privileged, in fact most of the blacks at NU that I’ve met are. Mainly, it’s a question of wealth, not skin color.


    Amelia Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    And what determines wealth to begin with? In large part, skin color. Hmmm…


    Reply to Yuliya Reply:
    October 24th, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Yuliya, in Ukraine’s case and many other Eastern European countries or places that are racially homogeneous, people who are persecuted are not viewed as “white”. Perfect example are people defined as “gypsy” they are not considered members of the country and they are not racially defined the same. They experience a lot of racism, inequality, and mistreatment. Race is created by society, so if you study race and identity in different countries concepts of “white” change.

    I like how we assume that whites are the most affected by this policy. If you take a look at schools who do not have affirmative action programs, the majority of their population is comprised of people who identify themselves as Asian (huge continent so a vague description).

    Here are the stats from Stuyvesant HS in New York City who based admission solely on a students performance on an exam (considered merit based): http://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/new-york/districts/new-york-city-public-schools/stuyvesant-high-school-13092/student-body (

    The same is said of many of the schools in California, where the lack of diversity is becoming an issue on campus for students. Similarly, the campus is mostly comprised of students who identify themselves as Asian.


  13. Cory Slowikon October 17th, 2012 1:22 pm

    “As many as 15 percent of freshmen at America’s top schools are white students who failed to meet their university’s minimum standards for admission, according to Peter Schmidt, deputy editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education. These kids are “people with a long-standing relationship with the university,” or in other words, the children of faculty, wealthy alumni and politicians. According to Schmidt, these unqualified but privileged kids are nearly twice as common on top campuses as Black and Latino students who had benefited from affirmative action.”

    from http://socialistworker.org/2011/09/19/myths-about-affirmative-action

    I don’t think it is people of color who are the unqualified ones here.


  14. Retraction please with more research on October 17th, 2012 1:23 pm

    I cannot believe you would even release an article like this from a freshman that has done absolutely no research and written from a white girl probably upper middle class point of view. This is just embarrassing. WHITE WOMEN HAVE MOST BENEFITTED FROM AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.


    Tyler Dillon Reply:
    October 20th, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Just because white women have benefited the most doesn’t mean a white woman can’t be against affirmative action. That has racial suggestions


  15. Ooof Daily on October 17th, 2012 1:26 pm

    Come on Daily. You had to know what this would do.

    If you REALLY wanted someone to speak eloquently against affirmative action, you could have chosen someone other than a freshman who hasn’t had time or the education to speak on such a complex issue.

    I’m not defending her misguided arguments or beliefs, but she was thrown to the wolves here.


    NUAlum Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    I admit, the Daily knew what response this would get and didn’t even make sure she had her facts straight. Someone probably should have stopped her and said “Have you made sure you researched this fully?”


    Avi Goldberg Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    Which just sucks, because what the hell else are fact-checkers (copy-editors!) for!


    Scott Grindy Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    I think it may have to do with how The Daily’s “columnists” work. Basically, anyone can be a columnist and their pieces are edited primarily for copy and not for content, to my understanding (more like an op-ed than a news piece). So most of the burden is on her.

  16. PP on October 17th, 2012 1:26 pm

    I think this is a really well written article and makes a good point. Affirmative action ultimately allows race to be the factor that wins out against qualification, and that is not the dream of Americans or the Civil Rights Movement, but that of those who know they are not truly qualified to be at the college they desire.


    Ugh Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    Research affirmative action. Please. This is what people say who don’t actually know anything about affirmative action other than the broadest, one-sentence definition that gets thrown around. I don’t mean this as an attack! It’s really easy to think this without having done research.


  17. LJ on October 17th, 2012 1:27 pm

    Also, the girl who got denied was shown to not have been accepted under their admission criteria.


  18. Wow on October 17th, 2012 1:35 pm

    We get it – you didn’t get into Yale and are looking for a scapegoat.

    But in all seriousness I understand what you’re saying. You’d much rather attend a homogenous institution of primarily white upper middle class students who grew up in an environment where AP testing, SAT tutors and quality college counseling were readily available and financially plausible.


  19. NUAlum on October 17th, 2012 1:37 pm

    Before writing this column, the author should have read Gratz v. Bollinger and Gutter v. Bollinger. Then she would have understood that the Supreme Court has explicitly overturned points system for raced based admissions, but upheld a system where admissions counselors considered race in looking at the applicant as a whole.

    This author also should have spoken to the nice people in the admissions office, who would have explained to her that they look at an entire applicant’s background, and that Northwestern, who joined an amicus brief, does not admit entirely based on race. She could have read that amicus brief, and discussed it in an intelligent way.

    Or you could just ignore the facts and write whatever this is.


    Sarah Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    There is a chance that she’s being funded by right-wingers like the Koch brothers, who just want to dismantle the entire idea of affirmative action. I’m not trying to be a crazy conspiracy theorist, but I saw it on a blog and was so outraged that I had to stop reading. Someone with better control of their anger than me should look it up…


    dan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    oh, come on! i hate this column as much as anybody, but seriously. she’s a college freshman writing in our student newspaper, nobody’s “funding” her.


    dan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    ah i think i’m a dummy who just got trolled. lol

  20. Yeah on October 17th, 2012 1:37 pm

    Because I mean, when the time-line of …say…African-Americans goes from slavery, to de facto slavery, to the crack epidemic, to AIDS, it’s just like, get over it y’know? You should be all caught up by now. It’s totally not cool to play the race card, even when the rest of the cards in the deck are stacked against you.

    I totally begrudge black people easier admissions standards because, even though I probably wouldn’t survive under their living conditions, America is all about pulling yourself up by your bootstraps. And even if those bootstraps have been cut off, doused in kerosene, and burned by white people who refuse to help beyond obligatory bone-throwing, it’s just like…make new boostraps, bro.



    Sarah Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    Yes. This comment is everything I wanted to say.

    Let’s check in with Zink after 4 years at Northwestern — we can only hope she learns something about institutionalized prejudice, racism, and what equal access to opportunity really means. (Hint: Affirmative action is a liiiiiiiiiiiiiittle more than making amends for the whole slavery thing)


  21. Dave on October 17th, 2012 1:40 pm

    Zink is a fly last name


    Hambo Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    Hands down the best comment yet.


  22. This is worse than binders full of women… on October 17th, 2012 1:45 pm

    “And merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part.”

    It’d be really wonderful if history were able to quarantine racism, on individual and institutionalized levels. But it wasn’t

    It’d also be really wonderful if the Daily did a better job at publishing stories that exemplify Northwestern rather than humiliate it.


  23. Desperate for page views? on October 17th, 2012 2:05 pm

    Publishing this seems like a grab for attention, frankly. There’s no way an editor read this and thought “oh what a well-reasoned and educated piece on a topical issue that will intellectually benefit this campus.” I blame the Daily, not Ms. Zink. It’s her right to think whatever she wants, however ill-informed her opinion.


  24. BM on October 17th, 2012 2:14 pm

    If you think you are a victim of affirmative action, you are seriously delusional. Welcome to the big world, where not everyone is white. And your repeated efforts at convincing your Readers that you are not ,in fact, racist, have seriously failed. I speak as a white male and an offended reader of this article. Grow up, kiddo, and get some perspective.


  25. Kevin on October 17th, 2012 2:15 pm

    What garbage!! How could they run an article like this?


  26. This is disgusting on the Daily’s part on October 17th, 2012 2:15 pm

    I am frankly appalled that The Daily published this. Sydney is a freshman who has been here for what two weeks? And some editor, knowing full well what the response would be, thinks it’s a good idea to sacrifice some ill informed girl for the sake of page views? It’s disgusting. Sydney is wrong — very wrong — and I am not defending her viewpoint but she is also 18 years old and ill informed. I am glad that the stupid opinions I held as a 17/18 year old were not published, and I’m sure most of you are too. Maybe she will realize how wrong this article is, maybe she won’t. But The Daily publishing this during the first quarter of her freshman year knowing that she will be an object of public ridicule is so irresponsible it’s astounding.


    Kevin Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:16 pm



  27. RS on October 17th, 2012 2:16 pm

    Considering the various events that took place at NU last year, I find the fact that the Daily would allow this to be published pretty incendiary. And anyway, affirmative action isn’t about letting in “less qualified” people (whatever that even means). It’s about making sure that when there are two equally qualified people, one of whom is of color, the person of color gets the spot.

    More diversity of opinion, background, etc. is what is going to make this a great university. Not having the people with the best SAT scores.


    G Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    completely agree


  28. Northwestern University’s Opinion on October 17th, 2012 2:26 pm



    Worth a read if you are interested in Northwestern’s official position on the case of Fisher vs UT. Try to be better informed with some basic sociology and a multitude of top universities’ official positions before writing a piece like this. And editors, please hold ALL of your columnists to a level of basis in fact (if they are going to write on such a weighty issue).



  29. DIVERSITY on October 17th, 2012 2:27 pm

    If you want to see what intolerance looks like, look no further than the commentors on this board attempting to shout down a MINORITY point of view on this campus. Look no further than the commentors who keep championing “diversity,” but preface their comments with ” I find the fact that the Daily would allow this to be published pretty incendiary.” Nothing is my hypocritical than all the people in this comment stream lambasting the Daily for publishing an opinion–on this campus a BRAVE opinion considering the backlash it receives–that dares dissent from everyone else.

    Good for you Ms. Zink. And–I never thought Id say this–good job Daily Northwestern for publishing diverse and contrasting opinions. After all, such discussion is what makes college worthwhile.


    NUAlum Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    She’s entitled to her opinion. But she (and the Daily) published this with an incendiary headline, with little or no research or factual support in the article. I think most of us our just banging our heads against our desks. If she’d made an intelligent argument, then sure, but she just didn’t do her homework on this one.


    FACTS Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    There is a difference between voicing an informed position that is at odds with those of a majority of your peers and writing an uninformed opinion that repeatedly proposed naively incorrect arguments as fact.


    “One is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities.”

    “Affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.”

    “a history of which most living today were not even a part”

    I think one can figure out for his/herself why these statements are not only misguided, but incorrect.


    Ruth Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:26 pm

    You say that, but most of what I hear is “wah wah wah wah waaaaaaaaah.” The Daily isn’t obligated to publish things that are ill-informed or wrong. It’s not worthwhile to hear from more spoiled white people about why they think an attempt at leveling the playing field is unfair to them. You know what’s actually wrong with affirmative action? It’s a band-aid. It doesn’t go nearly far enough at addressing actual achievement disparities that are driven by centuries of institutionalized racism, sexism and classism in this country. That would be an interesting discussion. What’s not interesting is shit like the above. An excerpt:

    ” I am pleased that Fisher had the courage to revive this discussion, given the almost certainty that our hypersensitive, obsessively-politically-correct society would be quick to brand any white person willing to challenge this biased system of admissions as racist. In its effort to remedy the lingering effects of a more racially segregated past where one skin color was preferred over another, affirmative action has become its own insidious form of discrimination where the preference is not for one skin color over another, but for skin color over merit. ”

    Oh yes, how BRAVE! You DARING white souls who wish to STAND UP in the name of all that is GOOD and WHITE! And this poor abused girl who had to settle for going to (GASP) LSU instead of UT! Oh wait, no, not brave at all. Stupid. That’s a better word for it.


    NU Alumna Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    DIVERSITY, I agree that yes, we want to promote diversity of opinions on campus.

    But I believe that everyone on this thread (minority or not) is calling for a better-informed, better-researched viewpoint. Zink makes statements which are pretty incendiary and, in some cases, flat out wrong. And I think that it is on the Daily for publishing a piece like this, without having the writer substantiate controversial points with any facts. Plus, given the fact that she’s just a freshman…come on Daily, you’ve just thrown her to the wolves.

    At the end of the day though, the Daily can publish what they want, just as readers can comment how they like. But Zink, be prepared to argue your point of view–this isn’t high school anymore.


  30. NU Chemist on October 17th, 2012 2:29 pm

    The author of this article better watch out. She’s probably been labeled a thought-criminal by the liberal administration of Northwestern.


    Ignorant Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:01 pm

    You are sad. So sad.


    Miriam Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:24 pm

    Oh, please. What are you even talking about? Enough with the histrionics. Thoughtcrime is only a thing in Orwell’s 1984. Not here in the U.S.


  31. Will Kaplan on October 17th, 2012 2:30 pm

    All of you previous commenters have stolen my thunder. and I thank you for it.

    All I have to say is,

    Sydney, look up what racism is. It doesn’t occur on individual level but on a societal one. You are where you are today not based on merit, but instead by benefiting from the legacy of racist laws and practices that this country has perpetrated since slavery.

    Slavery, subsidizing housing for whites while restricting loans for blacks after WWII, and the ridiculously inadequate education funding poor largely minority students receive when compared to suburban public schools. I could go on and on. Shame on you Shame.

    I am now physically ill.


    NU Chemist Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 2:50 pm

    The notion that minorities must be afforded extra entitlements to make up for past injustices is absurd. Affirmative action and entitlements disincentivize achievement and productivity. Tell me, why are Asians discriminated against in college admissions despite being a minority group? Asian communities have suffered quite a bit of discrimination throughout American history (for example, see Japanese internment camps during WWII). The reason is because they’re too darn successful and they mess up the admissions quotas. The fact of the matter is, talents and motivation are unequally distributed amongst people in our society. Artificially boosting the position of people who lack those qualities doesn’t do anyone any good. If you gave every single person a $100,000 salary, a house, and a car, within a year you’d arrive back at the original distribution of wealth. Some people will take what they’re given and improve. Some people will waste what they’re given and goof off. No amount of liberal social engineering can substitute for a meritocratic society where everyone is afforded the same rights and protections under the law.


    Ignorant Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    LACK QUALITIES? More like lack OPPORTNITIES. You are not handing out admissions to charity cases. You are extending education to deserving students who thought they never had a chance because they were poor, because they were black, because they were immigrants. They are born disadvanatged because of the previous generations of Americans legally denying them equality. This LINGERS today.

    As intelligent as you think you may be, you need to realize that you are stupid when it comes to reality and true society.


    Unqulaified Graduate Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:46 pm

    You are quite the asshat, Mr. Chemist. What you fail to recognize is that even operating under your completely off-base definition of affirmative action, affirmative action only opens the door, it doesn’t get you through four years of the same rigorous course of study that every other student must follow. In my time at NU as a minority undergraduate, I don’t recall sitting in special black or women’s only classes, and doing special black or women’s only homework when i was in classes with people other than my race. The fact is, you clearly look around you and feel that all those undeserving minorities don’t belong to on campus. In reality, when all the degrees are conferred at the end of the day, classifying those that have made it to that point as “unqualified” is just a show of your own ignorance.


    NU Chemist Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:21 pm

    You claim I’m ignorant but start your reply by calling me an “asshat.” That really shows off your intelligence, huh? Regardless, you’re totally right that affirmative action opens the door. So why admit someone who is less qualified to study at NU while denying a spot to someone else who would better take advantage of that education? It’s funny that you claim I look at minorities as “undeserving.” That race card of yours is probably all worn and dog-eared from using it so much. I would have thought NU taught you to make a coherent argument without projecting racism and hatred onto others. Get a clue.

    lol Reply:
    November 1st, 2012 at 9:09 pm

    Word of advice: try a service industry job for like a year, stick out of ass, perspective granted, problem solved.


  32. Conner on October 17th, 2012 2:31 pm

    On the “RWP” point and the attack of Mitt Romney’s being cast in a negative light for being rich —

    Let us also consider the unfortunate trend on Twitter of people, in reference to Obama, saying, “It’s called the White House for a reason.” Perhaps there is an element of classism in criticisms of Mitt Romney, but that element is tiny compared to the blatant racism displayed toward Obama. And even though it may be a small amount of people on the Internet who say those things, it clearly debunks the notion of America being a “hypersensitive, obsessively-politically-correctsociety.” Before you singlehandedly separate ALL white people from ALL minorities, please consider that America is full to the brim with people who are not politically correct, nor sensitive, and that you should perhaps consider which side of that divide you fall on.

    Also, twisting the Civil Rights Movement to scorn affirmative action completely misses the point of the movement in the first place. Your neat little summary on the goals of the Civil Rights Movement entirely ignores the history of the movement, preferring to choose one line from one speech over an extremely complex movement that lasted more than a decade.

    Before you claim that race is no longer an issue in America, consider: Trayvon Martin and Oscar Grant. Discrimination was not eliminated 50 years ago.


  33. Sitting at Norris on October 17th, 2012 2:35 pm

    I see an all-white tour group walking through the student center, I’m tempted to tell the prospies they shouldn’t bother applying.


    NUAlum Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Yeah – the majority of NU is white. A few years ago there were only 12 black freshman. I’d say white students have an excellent chance of getting in here. Way to be delusional.


    Wes Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 2:47 am

    12? I believe you’re referring to the year that had something like 80-90 black freshmen, the class of 2012. That, of course, does not include any blacks who chose not to report their race.


    Kate Donovan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    Not only is this an incredibly dense observation and opinion, you appear to neglect to notice that not everyone can afford to travel to Chicago, stay in a hotel, and visit a school. So yeah, affirmative action tries to make up for the people who can’t have opportunities like taking time off from work to fly to a city to wander through a campus.


    grendel Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I think Sitting at Norris was being sarcastic


  34. Z on October 17th, 2012 2:38 pm

    This is ridiculous. Have you ever looked up the institutionalized racism that was created by the housing corporation that was created in the 1930’s. This did not allow black families, to name one example, to move away from the inner cities. This created a cycle of poverty and underperforming schools due to LACK of funding. Now ask yourself: How are public schools funded? Did you answer “property taxes”? Hope so because that is how they are. And because of this, which area (inner city or suburbs) has higher property taxes? Exactly. Suburbs do. So to essentially tell me that somebody, in the inner city, has the same amount of opportunity as somebody in the suburbs is ridiculous. Understand things thoroughly before you write stuff like this please.


  35. Katie on October 17th, 2012 2:50 pm

    “In fact, today, in terms of direct statements of discrimination and disdain, one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities.”

    She can NOT be serious. Is she really equating this with hateful racial slurs and insensitive cultural stereotypes?

    I understand this girl is entitled to her opinion, and that’s fine. But this wasn’t even a well-written or researched argument against affirmative action. As others have said, this should be an embarrassment to the Daily and to Northwestern…


  36. Cory Slowikon October 17th, 2012 2:52 pm

    Can we NOT with the making fun of Zink’s looks? Seriously?


    Kate Donovan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:09 pm

    I think they’ve been deleted, but thanks for this.


  37. To the Author on October 17th, 2012 2:55 pm

    Please take this opportunity to learn about your own privilege, and to reflect on how far removed you are from reality. YOUR reality is not THE reality. As an aspiring journalist, at least that’s what I assume, learn from your mistake of publishing this piece. Your words are ignorant. Your words do not articulate a sound argument against affirmative action.

    Your words defend cyclical maintenance of the status quo, in which you belong to the dominant culture.

    In a country where everyone deserves equal access to education, which is NOT readily available, affirmative action aims to entitle many underrepresented and underprivileged students so that they may have the same chance some “rich white people” are innately born with.

    NEVER victimize “rich white people.” NEVER victimize the privileged in general. They have the privilege of not being victims.

    Take it from the other side – the people in control making all of the decisions are the limiting reagent to the success of all people. They do not assume the role of victim, but oppressor.


  38. DIVERSITY on October 17th, 2012 2:58 pm

    Oh come ON. If this backlash were because she didn’t cite enough academic sources, then 90% of the Daily’s Op-Eds would have 50 comment ad hominem chains calling shreiking that the Daily take down the article and that the writer must be a racist or a moron. But we all know thats not the case. The majority of the above comments were ad hominem attacks against Ms. Zink–many implying or directly calling her racist–and they were not the way scholars of a superb university engage in intelligent discourse. And last time I checked, no informative comment ever began “Google the following terms….”

    But if you want to talk about research consider the academic literature do to be published in book form TOMORROW by two *liberal* academics chronicalling the vast failures of affirmative action–most especially the failure of the people it is purported to help!!!

    That includes the following:

    •Black college freshmen are more likely to aspire to science or engineering careers than are white freshmen, but mismatch causes blacks to abandon these fields at twice the rate of whites.

    •Blacks who start college interested in pursuing a doctorate and an academic career are twice as likely to be derailed from this path if they attend a school where they are mismatched.

    •About half of black college students rank in the bottom 20 percent of their classes (and the bottom 10 percent in law school).

    •Black law school graduates are four times as likely to fail bar exams as are whites; mismatch explains half of this gap.

    •Interracial friendships are more likely to form among students with relatively similar levels of academic preparation; thus, blacks and Hispanics are more socially integrated on campuses where they are less academically mismatched.


    Stay informed.


    JM Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Thank you for taking a well-reasoned, and well-cited piece of discussion into this comment section. It’s a breath of fresh air.


    A Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    while i think sydney’s article could have used more facts/research, to attack her the way northwestern students/alums have in the comments section is outrageous. it’s an opinion; everyone is entitled to one. i’m more embarrassed to be attending a school where her opinion is so disrespected.

    interesting research: http://cshe.berkeley.edu/publications/publications.php?id=321

    socioeconomic status has a greater bearing on college success than does race. impoverished whites have similar college attendance/grad rates as blacks. and hispanics. asians are the exception. check it out.

    i’m not necessarily supporting this, but PERHAPS SES could play a role in admissions instead of race. kids of low SES don’t have the resources. wealthy blacks and whites alike have access to books and likely live in areas where education is encouraged. kids without money, regardless of race, struggle.


  39. mo on October 17th, 2012 3:07 pm

    Also – this chick needs to meet more colored people. Maybe then she’d realize they all aren’t bumbling idiots who could only read “Black – non hispanic” on the application. Believe it or not, Sydney, they might be *checks over shoulder* smart! Y’know, they might be *really* smart. Like, smart enough to get into one of the best learning institutions in the world?


    JM Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Well great. Then they can get in based solely on the basis of merit, without race coming into the equation. I’m fairly certain Sydney does not have an issue with that possibility.


    mo Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    Maybe we should make more room by evicting the assholes…


    JM Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    Ok, see you later then.

    JM Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    I’m sorry, that last response was dickish of me, but I’m afraid you’re deliberately misunderstanding the point of this column and my point. Sydney is not objecting to intelligent minority candidates being allowed into the university, but rather race being the distinguishing factor between candidates. Because if you allow race to be responsible for such a decision, you are following what is, by its nature a racist system. I do not question the intentions of affirmative action, but it is true that as long as it exists, the construct of race must, by affirmative action’s very nature, be utilized as a factor in admissions and employment.

  40. Elyse on October 17th, 2012 3:12 pm

    I don’t think you understand what affirmative action means. Equating the promotion of race with the sacrifice of merit is a misinformed view that projects what you want to believe about affirmative action onto what it actually does.

    When any academic institution opens admissions, they receive more qualified applications than spots available. Always. Even after you throw out the blatantly unqualified applicants, there will still be more applicants with 4.0s, extracurricular, and great recommendation letters than spots available. Affirmative action comes into place once the pool has been narrowed down to all equally qualified applicants, and only then, does race become either a “bonus” to a candidate, or even a factor.

    Institutions legally cannot have quotas (Sydney, do you get what a quota is? I’m not sure. This means they cannot set out to hire a specific number of minorities), but they can use race as a beneficial factor towards candidates once they are found to be qualified for admission, and also as a general goal to promote diversity.

    White people are not losing out on opportunities because less-qualified minorities are being promoted, they are losing out because there are equally qualified minorities who also deserve their proportionate representation in academia and because the spots they are “losing out on” were never theirs to begin with.

    This article is extremely misinformed and reductive of a complicated issue. I would recommend reading The Constitutional Logic of Affirmative Action to actually understand this issue, and shame on the editors for allowing this to be published.


  41. Elyse on October 17th, 2012 3:13 pm

    I would just like to reiterate:

    White people are not losing out on opportunities because less-qualified minorities are being promoted, they are losing out because there are equally qualified minorities who also deserve their proportionate representation in academia and because the spots they are “losing out on” were never theirs to begin with.

    Sydney, your white privilege is showing.


  42. mo on October 17th, 2012 3:16 pm

    True, but people typically assume that unless said Jew can defend themselves. It’s a stereotype and, likely, the target of any “RWP” slinging she’s seen


  43. News Flash on October 17th, 2012 3:16 pm

    “Proponents argue that affirmative action is necessary to make up for centuries of slavery and segregation, in which virtually none of us living today were participants.”

    Virtually none of us living today were participants? I mean, except for all our parents and grandparents… Many of our parents went to segregated schools, everyone who is older that 43 lived in a time where there was segregation.
    Racism is not over and in fact permeates every part of our society. This article came from a place of ignorance, and it’s an argument we’ve all heard and that any one with and kind of awareness and understanding of the American judicial system, or economic development, white privilege, or even the education system in this country would be too smart and informed to make.
    This article is upsetting and based on false pretenses.


  44. Keith Schnabel on October 17th, 2012 3:24 pm

    “And merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part.”

    I hadn’t realized that people born before the civil rights movement were all dead.


  45. Ce Cole Dillon on October 17th, 2012 3:24 pm

    I realize that this is a very young person. And I realize that the saying that “youth is wasted on the young” exists for a reason. I was ticked off about the tenor of this story, but was going to let it go, until I read this sentence. “And merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part”.

    Ms. Zink has only been at NU for two weeks, so perhaps it is excusable perhaps that she doesn’t yet know NU’s history. Perhaps she doesn’t know the history of James Pitts, or Don Jackson, or Daphne Maxwell Reid, all of who were students at NU in the 1960’s, when NU practiced quotas of exclusion. Perhaps she doesn’t know that in 1966, a black student wrote poignantly about the Negro student who didn’t exist at NU. Perhaps she hasn’t heard of the May 3-4, 1968 takeover of the Bursar’s office to protest the plight of black students at NU. Perhaps she doesn’t know that the Department of African American Studies was created out of that protest largely by those students.

    Perhaps she hasn’t heard the history of three black women who where the sole black women admitted to the class under a quota of exclusion, who are still close friends 50 years later. Perhaps she doesn’t know the story of Illinois State Senator Jacqui Collins, who was dismissed twice from NU for engaging in student protests over racism and exclusion.

    All of these people are alive today. And many of them are great alum of the University, in part because of the efforts of the late William Ihlenfeldt among others to make NU a place of inclusion. Perhaps she doesn’t know that this is a work in progress, and that there is leadership from the President’s office committed to continuing the work done by others to make NU a place of inclusion.

    Perhaps she doesn’t know of the work of the most recent past President Henry Bienen to improve the plight of black students in the 21st century at NU by appointing Burgie Howard and other professionals to improve community life of black students.

    Perhaps she doesn’t know of the work of the Dean of the School of Education to support SESP students as they work on inclusion at NU. Perhaps she doesn’t know of the work of Professor Martha Biondi to document the work of black students to create climates of inclusion at Universities across the nation. Perhaps she doesn’t know that these students were her age (and in a few cases younger – some as young as 16) in the 1960’s when they were engaged in protests over the legacy of exclusion.

    So, I refuse to say something snarky. But I will shake my head, and hope that as this young grows and learns something at and about NU. I hope that the experience of being at NU will open your eyes beyond the narrow perspective of life you have been given so far. You are in a university. A great university. Fulfill the mission and learn something. Grow beyond what your parents and your community taught you. Because young lady you have quite strong opinions for someone who knows little about what really happened.


  46. Deeply Offended on October 17th, 2012 3:24 pm

    You know what I AM hypersensitive about? Immensely assumptive, poorly-researched, one-sided columns implying that my identity as a biracial student gave me an unfair advantage in the college admissions process. I am an A student with extra-curricular activities galore, well-written college essays, and I also happen to be Latina. The number of times students at my wealthy, predominantly white school bemoaned their privileges and presented my situation as somehow “easier” than theirs regarding college admissions is TOO HIGH FOR ME TO COUNT.

    You have to be willfully ignorant of current and recent racial issues to truly believe that the most commonly heard racially charged insult is “rich white people.” Boy, would that world be different. The only world in which affirmative action need not exist is a world where an entire group of people has not consistently benefited from the discrimination and sublimation of others.

    It’s also worth noting that in many of the anti-affirmative action arguments made the issue of legacies is conveniently omitted. You want to discuss the fairness of allowing low-income, disadvantaged people of color spots at top-tier universities? Then let’s discuss the fairness of allowing students to attend those same universities because their parents and grandparents did.


    Deeply Offended Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    Edit: Subjugation, not sublimation.

    Not exactly thinking clearly. Too busy seeing red.


  47. DIVERSITY on October 17th, 2012 3:33 pm

    Elyse (among others),

    The idea that Affirmative Action is just a coin flip used to decide between two EQUALLY qualified student of different race is so beyond laughable, because, for one, we wouldnt have 100-comment long forums on the DAILY’s damn website with people kicking and screaming if it were so simple and innocuous.

    Moreover, you cant just simply make those claims and expect people to believe them, without citing evidence. Like this:

    For instance, the typical UT student receiving affirmative action preferences places around the 52nd percentile on the SATs. The average white student admitted to UT places in the 89th percentile. That is NOT a coin flip. That is very stark. Whats worse, who do you think that hurts the most?! Ms. Fisher is doing fine 4 years hence her rejection, and graduated from a slightly worse school. But the student admitted under AffAct were forced to compete in a school with much more qualified students in a very rigorous environment, which means they dropped out or opted out of difficult,technical studies (science, econ, engineering) at a FAR higher rate than their white/asian peers. Its the people its meant to help often, that AfAct hurts the most!!!


  48. JM on October 17th, 2012 3:34 pm

    I would just like to point out that there have been a number of liberally-inclined opinion columns in the past lacking support, citations, and research equally to the extent this column does. Few, if any, of those articles were met with this kind of vitriol. I am forced to conclude, then, that this anger so prevalent in this column’s comment section is not based on the quality of research and support, but on her particular stance. That being said, it is certainly fair to respectfully disagree with her stance, and to argue against it, but this level of hate that exists simply because her political views do not match the majority of Northwestern’s is unwarranted.


    DIVERSITY Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:36 pm



    NU Sucks Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    seriously. but most of those articles have 0 comments . . .


  49. kristin on October 17th, 2012 3:38 pm

    Ah, the “white privilege” write-off.

    For all their “tolerance,” liberals just can’t stand it when people don’t drink the kool-aid.

    Every stop and think that not everyone buys into the “white privilege” mantra? If “white privilege” is a thing, why to Asians and Southeast Indians out-perform even whites?

    Frankly I think it offensive for people to call others who don’t agree with them “ignorant.” Rather than establishing whether the author is or is not ignorant, it just shows the depth of the ignorance of those commenting. Because it shows your absolute inability to engage in a meaningful debate, or think critically about the issues and respond in an intelligent manner, and your unwillingness to even fathom for a moment that there exist more sides to the debate than just yours. Saying things like “check your white privilege at the door” is just an easy way for you to blow someone off, without having to do any intellectual legwork yourself.

    Affirmative action is always an interesting debate, because it just proves the line from Avenue Q: everyone’s a little bit racist.

    Brings out the resentment from “people of color” about the success of white people and asian people, and brings out the resentment in white people for “people of color” who continually play the race card.

    Isn’t it a wonderful world.


    Uh Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:20 pm

    White privilege doesn’t mean that white people are automatically the best at everything…it means being white comes with inherent, unearned advantages. Same with beauty privilege, the privilege that comes with being able-bodied, etc…


    Daniel Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    Thank you for your in-depth knowledge of race. It is really impressive to find someone who can speak in such broad strokes about exactly how every race feels about affirmative action. Please tell me more about the resentment that this brings out from “people of color.”


    SmarterThanAFifthGrader Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    No, people get called ignorant when they make unfounded statements based on a lack of knowledge – i.e., the way white people stereotypically refer to “people of color” (in your quotation marks) as resentful of white and asian people for their success. Your words, right? Now tell me, when is the last time you’ve asked a person of color if they were resentful of you? NEVER?!?! Exactly. That means your comment is ignorant, because you are speaking under false pretenses about how people of color feel when, in fact, no minority has ever said they resented you. EVER.



    kristin Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    i think the level of vitrol at Zink, anyone who agrees with her point, and at white people in general shows the level of resentment. Actions speak louder than words, and you oh-so-tolerant people are a bunch of wolves. You are hateful, resentful, and think that somehow white people, the world, i don’t know, god owes you something.

    guess what? we are a small speck of a species in a huge universe. the world doesn’t owe you jack shit. so get off your entitled assess and do something about your communities.

    And yeah, maybe this is white privilege. but you know what? take my white privilege and shove it up your ****. I am sick and tired of hearing this crap, and I am going to be as nasty to you ***hats as you have been on here.

    Not resentful my ***


    Uh… Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:30 am

    How did you escape the wolves, exactly?

    And the “vitrol” aimed at Ms. Zink is only a response to the vitriol found in her article.

    “And merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part.”

    What do you call that?

    Since when is calling out the fallacy of an opinion “intolerant”? Because if that’s your definition of intolerance, I can’t imagine what you think about women’s rights activists and revolutionaries. Because the ideas that women are inferior to men and certain people have the right to oppress entire nations are opinions, right?

    Look, I’m not going to go through each of your…points(?) and tell you what’s wrong with them. I’m not even responding to this because I found it particularly inflaming. I was just surprised that no one else had.

    Even for all your white privilege, you’re still a f-ing dumb***

  50. ANGRY COMMENTER! on October 17th, 2012 3:39 pm



  51. Leif on October 17th, 2012 3:43 pm

    I’m shocked to hear about all of the terrible personal attacks against Sydney, many from people that I know and normally consider to be nice, respectful, and open-minded people.

    But that characterization doesn’t apply today.

    In addition to attacking her appearance, calling her racist names, and asserting that she suffers from “white privilege”, they have resorted to intellectually dishonest arguments that seek to silence her opinions.

    The real question is: “Is Sydney right?”. But nobody really seems interested in trying to answer that question.

    They would prefer to simply make personal attacks, call her column poorly researched, and say she is insufficiently “experienced” to have an opinion, by which they mean “hasn’t taken enough sociology courses”. Perhaps a more sensible qualification is: “has read any book by Thomas Sowell”.

    Shame on all of you for banding together in what can only be described as a prime example of mob behavior. Either she is right or she is wrong, any attacking her for anything else is simply bullying.


    P Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:46 pm

    White privilege is not an intellectually dishonest argument, it’s something that is very real.


    Leif Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    Accusing her of having the “white privilege” bug is an intellectually dishonest and cruel smear. It is not something that is substantiated by anything she has said or done.


    P Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    How is it a cruel smear? White privilege in and of itself is not a bad thing, it’s just something that happens to exist and something that will continue to exist. She can’t help having it, but she can help being aware of it and being aware of the advantages she has as a white person.

    The fact that she can sincerely write “In fact, today, in terms of direct statements of discrimination and disdain, one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities” when that’s clearly not true suggests that she is naive at best.

    I don’t know about you, but I know for sure that I’d rather worry about disapproving sneers than have to worry about not being able to wear a hoodie and walk down the street at night or worrying that someone will think my son is a thug, having to worry about the TSA thinking my dad is an evil brown terrorist every time we go to the airport, or having to carry my passport around with me even while I’m running ordinary errands because of the off-chance a police officer will see me and think I look illegal.

    Great Point Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 3:49 pm

    WHAT I WOULD DO to see the reasponses to an speech from Thomas Sowell on this campus….College Republicans–or Democrats–Or the Political Union should try to get him!

    Then people would REALLY be forced to think rather than calling a girl ugly on a discussion board…..


    Um Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    White privilege is something that every white person in America has. This is not a question. It’s the truth. By being born a white person, you automatically have privilege, and will therefore benefit from that.


    brian Reply:
    October 21st, 2012 at 11:59 pm

    everyone born in the us has privilege…seems like a waste of time being butthurt about people more privileged than you


  52. Good on October 17th, 2012 3:59 pm

    I don’t know why people are being so rude. Affirmative action has no basis anymore and this girl points that out. No matter what you say she is just correct.


    SmarterThanAFifthGrader Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    False. If it has no basis, why in the heck would she be suing in the Supreme Court?


  53. P on October 17th, 2012 4:09 pm

    “If you don’t like your circumstances, change them. Don’t get me wrong, that is no easy undertaking, but if you’re so goddamned interested in representing the oppression of your ancestors, show them that you can work just as hard as they worked to change their own lives. ”

    You have heard of a little thing called the cycle of poverty/generational poverty, right? Sometimes outside intervention is necessary.


    Uhm Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    I guess I should rephrase. “If you don’t like your circumstances, too bad.”


    Stupid Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:30 pm

    White privilege in a nutshell, ladies & gentlemen.


    Please Think Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    I don’t know if you’ve had the privilege of having to worry about whether or not you’re going to have food tomorrow or a home to live in next month on top of worrying about school but it does actually make succeeding in school just a little bit harder. Maybe someone worked just as hard as you but had to devote more of their work to things which you may never have had to worry about for a day in your life. It doesn’t have to mean they’re dumber, it could mean they didn’t have as much time as you did to study for the SATs.


    Uhm Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    There’s always going to be someone wealthier than I am. I can promise you that. And while I may not have scourged for food on the streets at night, don’t go trying to convince yourself that I haven’t had a whole host of issues nobody could pay you enough to sustain. If you and a whole bunch of people from all walks of life hung your problems on a coat hanger, each of you would take your own problems over someone else’s.

    Idle time doesn’t exist no matter how much money you have…that is, unless you’re stupid or brain-dead.

    It’s been said that the most anyone can hope for in life is to have enough money to only worry about your mind. What haunts my soul? Is it worth it? Can I live up to my past? Will they be proud of me? Do I deserve this? Will I have time to be happy?

    Is that the life you want?

    No matter how many times somebody told you that money couldn’t buy you happiness, nothing is more painful that having to learn that firsthand. “Now what?” is not a question you should want to have to ask yourself.

    Just because wallets are deep doesn’t mean the people who carry them aren’t.

    Please Think Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    No one is dismissing your problems or that you aren’t deep. All I’m saying is that people in poverty have those same worries, the “am I going to be good enough?” the “am I going to make someone proud of me?” that many of us got through. But to not recognize that many of them are at a serious disadvantage is absurd. On top of those worries, these kids have to worry about things that many of us take for granted every day. Also no one said you had idle time; you had time to study and work hard for the things you did, and someone working trying to support themselves or their families at a young age and trying to go to school won’t have that time to do so. So even if they might be naturally smarter, it might not be reflected in their performance
    All I’m saying is think about if you didn’t have time to study in school; think about if you weren’t properly nourished; how do you really think you would have done in school?


    Uhm Reply:
    October 21st, 2012 at 12:39 am

    I understand and respect all of the points you bring up, but I still don’t think you’re hearing me. It’s as simple as this:

    “Stagnation in my situation is far more embarrassing and depressing than it is in a lesser situation. If I can’t do well, who can?”

  54. Sense on October 17th, 2012 4:09 pm

    There is a right way to argue against affirmative action…this is not it


  55. Northwestern Alum on October 17th, 2012 4:26 pm

    While I think this author definitely could have written a better written article, I find this article written by the Wall Street Journal to be helpful in defending what I think is the author’s main point of getting rid of Affirmative Action.



    NU Sucks Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    I think the WSJ article brings up a good point. I fit the profile of someone who’s supposed to succeed here–I’m a privileged white girl who went to a good high school and had great SAT scores–but I still struggle a lot with the classes here. When you’re a STEM major here, you’re competing with other kids who all got 800’s on their math SAT’s many of whom also study 6+ hours every day. Plus, the teachers set their own curricula and sometimes they do a miserable job of communicating the material. Sometimes, it’s a struggle to get a C in a class. It’s just not fun. I was an exceptional math and science student in high school, here I more often feel like a failure.

    Go somewhere that will nurture you and teach you the material. I’ve taken online classes and classes at my state school and I found them to be much better experiences. Less stressful and I actually learned the material better (I got A’s on tests that I got C’s on at Northwestern). I think there’s a lot to be said for going to a school where you are able of excelling beyond your peers. Plus I think a lot of the benefits of going to “elite” schools like Northwestern are overstated. FYI to everyone here: Northwestern ranks quite poorly in terms of return on investment: too expensive and it doesn’t increase your earnings potential much more than any other college would.


  56. Toby on October 17th, 2012 4:37 pm



  57. Honestly on October 17th, 2012 4:37 pm

    regardless of your view (and I am one who believe in reform of affirmative action but also its valuable existence), this column is embarrassing because it is poorly researched and overly simplistic. I think we’ve covered that.

    But as embarrassing as that may be for NU, the comments on this piece show the hundreds of students who truly understand the intricacies of this issue and make me proud to be a student here 1000 times over. For that, I’m glad this debate happened.

    Finally, to those that argue that “Asians don’t seem to suffer like African Americans do, so why call it white privilege?”… yes, that statement is surface-level true. But it is important to remember that disadvantage in school is strongly tied to SOCIOECONOMIC disadvantage. Why are a higher number of those students black? Think about the legacy of job and educational discrimination that the parents, grandparents, etc. of today’s black students faced, from the time of slavery up through today, and I think you’ll have your answer.


    TruthtoPower Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    Agreed. On the one hand, the stupid students seem to becoming even more stupid (similar to how Republicans used to be reasonable before turning into the Tea Party…I digress), but I am really impressed, having read some of these comments, at how sophisticated many students’ reasoning is. Ms. Zink should take notes.

    Because I’m feeling snarky, I would now like to suggest that perhaps Ms. Zink was an affirmative action admit. She clearly didn’t gain admission based on personal smarts, and White women are the biggest beneficiaries of Affirmative action policies. To the people who will object to this suggestion, be sure to similarly object when someone assumes that a Black or Latino student didn’t merit admission and “took” mediocre Abby Fisher’s place.


  58. SillyThingsWhitePeopleSay on October 17th, 2012 4:44 pm

    Hold before I speak to this ridiculously claim that this has nothing to do with white privilege let’s look at some actual quotes from the article:

    “The presumed racism of upper-middle-class white people is drastically misaligned. In fact, today, in terms of direct statements of discrimination and disdain, one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities. There certainly is no shortage of people who identify Mitt Romney and “his people” as disgusting, horrible people who deserve no respect but rather a plethora of unflattering associations. For fear of being cloaked socially with the “RWP” mantle, many seem to hastily make apologetic claims of empathy with other groups and to desperately reject this likely-fitting title by scoffing disdainfully at “RWP” somewhere in their disclaimer.”

    Yeah this paragraph…where the reversal racism claim is made…where rich white people have it so bad…yeah that’s not example of white privilege at all…

    This brackets out the assertion that affirmative action is only about segregation and the slavery of the best. Have your ever tried being young, black and male in any major urban city? Where you are subject to random stop-and-frisks without justification and racial profiling? Where you are more likely then not to live in abject poverty? Where you are three times as likely to end up in jail or murdered than your white peers? This notion of some quaint past where black racism existed in contrast to the dark present where GASP white people are the victims is interesting rhetorical move…a rhetorical move of the white and privileged. Oh and Indians and Asians are good math is not a response to the inherent advantages that exist in life because you are born white. It’s not even mostly about tests scores broheims…it’s about all the things (on some of which are mentioned here) that you don’t even ever have to consider or think about because you are white.


  59. James Johnson on October 17th, 2012 4:53 pm

    Sorry, Zink. Sadly, race is something that is still intrinsically tied to privilege. Your idea of the Civil Rights Movement is a bit romantic and even more so, largely misinformed. “…and then one day some great men helped to solve all of the problems, institutionalized racism vanished, racial difference was embraced, minorities were given all of the advantages they deserved, the work was done, and our national conscious was healed”. No that is not how the story goes. One cannot simply say that the dream of the Civil Rights Movement was to have “all people be judged by who they are rather than their skin color”, and then continue life as though measures do not have to be taken to ensure that this is actually the case. To assume that this is even possible without programs that assist in helping individuals whose skin colors are statistically tied to disadvantage due to a variety of inequities that I will not even begin to go in to is offensive, yet not quite as shocking as the first time I realized I was a black American, and what that meant.


  60. Orieon October 17th, 2012 4:59 pm

    “one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about “rich white people” than anything derogatory about minorities.”

    Sounds like something Mitt Romney would say. The sad thing is, some of the most talented African Americans, Hispanics, etc. even when performing at the top of their class still can’t compete with B or even C level students at “rich white people” schools (I call it that for the sake of going with her message) but is it their fault that they were born into the conditions that they were, and can’t get better opportunities? I’m not sure where this young lady is from, but I recommend that she takes a visit to some of Chicago’s underperforming neighborhood schools on the South and Westside. Look at their curriculum’s, then speak with the people who are at the top of their graduating class. You’ll see that despite how well they’re performing, they’re often not given the same opportunities. But does that mean that they shouldn’t be allowed into such universities as Northwestern? No…they deserve just a great of opportunity as the “rich white people” because education is one of, if not the strongest resource we have to bridge the gap between our communities.


  61. rj on October 17th, 2012 5:18 pm

    Ms. Zink deserves applause for being a brave soul willing to speak out and offer her opinion on a contentious issue in the midst of a university that is essentially a cesspool of liberalism.


  62. Brianna on October 17th, 2012 5:20 pm

    Referring to SLAVERY as “a more racially segregated past where one skin color was preferred over another.” Like….really?


  63. WhiteManF on October 17th, 2012 5:21 pm

    In the classes I took at NU, we learned that if you control for race, socioeconomic status and education of parents are the strongest predictors of upward mobility and later life “success.” In the USA, sadly enough, race is convoluted with poverty. A truly successful affirmative action policy would focus on giving kids whose parents are of a lower socioeconomic class (or live in a worse-off neighborhood) advantages, but higher institutions will never do this because that would mean picking kids they would have to give scholarships to.

    Need-blind policies are a convenient way for schools to say they are bringing in diversity, but they truly aren’t. Schools should look at the need of the students, which should be a factor in their favor.

    Race is and always will be an issue, but parental social class and education are much more significant predictors of success.


  64. NU Sucks on October 17th, 2012 5:27 pm

    Please don’t take a soc. class. It will poison your mind.


  65. Joan on October 17th, 2012 5:31 pm

    I disagree with some of what you’ve written (for example, that disparaging remarks against rich white people are more of a problem/more common than disparaging remarks against minorities).

    However, I am against race-based affirmative action, and from that standpoint, I want to applaud you for having the courage to publish an article against affirmative action. On a college campus like this, a lot of people will hate you and accuse you of bigotry or heartlessness for taking a conservative stance on a wide variety of issues (if you’re pro-life, you must hate women; if you’re against illegal immigration, you must be racist; if you think entitlement programs should be reduced, you have no heart for the underprivileged). I regularly see these kinds of comments made about conservative viewpoints, and it’s hurtful to be accused of these things. It’s fear of being thought of in this way by my peers that makes me hesitant to share my political views, even if my views aren’t grounded in the accusations some people claim. So, although I disagree with some of the statements in this article, overall, I want to thank you for having the courage to write it. I know you’re getting a lot of hate in the comments and on Facebook, so I just wanted to say, keep your head held high! Don’t let them get you down.


    progress Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    +10000 for a thoughtful response, disagreement or not


  66. rj on October 17th, 2012 5:41 pm

    For people who support affirmative action, I have a question –

    How come minorities who live in the upper class neighborhoods (with the same benefits and advantages you say white people have) get to benefit from affirmative action policies? How does that make any sense?


    not rj Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    yes rj, because minorities who live in upper class neighborhoods don’t experience discrimination throughout their lives. only poor black folk are the victims of society’s imbedded racism. how saddening it is to see such ignorance in the northwestern community.


    SillyThingsWhitePeopleSay Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:15 pm

    Totally dude…because living in a upper class gated community really helped protect Trayvon Martin from negative assumptions about being young, black and male…Hey RJ, do you ever feel self-conscious about walking down a certain street because you might get frisked by the police for no reason? Have you ever had to avoid driving in certain neighborhoods because you know if a cop car sees you they are going to pull you over for a DWB? Do you think it’s odd that the highest cause of death for black males under the age of 30 is murder?…nah I bet you don’t have to think abut that at all do ya? Black people, no matter their socioeconomic status are subject to subtle, overt and structural forms of racism. Is it better to be rich than poor? Duh dude. Does it undo all the ways whiteness is privileged over non-whiteness….not so much


  67. rj on October 17th, 2012 6:04 pm

    How specifically are they affected by society’s “imbedded racism?” That’s a very vague concept. I really don’t see how minorities in rich neighborhoods can be considered disadvantaged.

    And sorry, but it isn’t ignorance. Just because someone has a different opinion than you do doesn’t mean it’s ignorance. Unless your definition of “ignorance” is non-liberal, or course.


    dan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    “I don’t understand, tell me how these minorities are supposedly ‘discriminated against!’ This does not conform with my experience as a member of the dominant culture. NO I’M NOT IGNORANT HOW DARE YOU LIBERAL THOUGHT POLICE.” – rj, basically.


    rj Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    Yeah Dan, I’m asking for examples of how minorities from upper class backgrounds are discriminated against to deserve affirmative action policies in their favor. It’s not too hard of a concept, but I understand your frustration at trying to think of examples, because quite frankly there aren’t many at all.


    dan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:22 pm

    basically i was trying to show that i found your line of reasoning too silly to engage with. you’re setting up a straw man for arguments in favor of affirmative action. but you’re doubling down so i guess i’ll try and show you why you’re wrong.

    this may be a shock to you but the reality is that there are proportionally many fewer wealthy minorities in our country than there are wealthy whites! (here’s figures if you want them http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0104552.html). this is not just about black people and white people, but a quick comparison between the two groups is useful. 11% of white households make less than $15k; 25% of black households fall into that category. meanwhile, 13.5% of white households make more than $100k a year, and only 6.5% of black families do.

    what i’m getting at is that the fact is race and class are intimately connected in our country, courtesy of hundreds of years of race-based oppression. in the past 50 or so years we’ve gotten a good start on putting that behind us, but there’s pretty obviously still a long way to go. while it’s true that wealthy minorities (still FAR outnumbered by disadvantaged minorities in the U.S.) may by virtue of their race get an edge they don’t “deserve” (i have problems with this but whatever) in the college admissions process, i’m more than happy to accept this if it means that we also give a leg up to those who are still suffering from the historical circumstances imposed on them.

    basically what i’m saying is to see the college admissions process as some sort of injustice perpetrated against whites is hysterical and yes, ignorant.

    Alumni Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 11:05 am

    the point is that blacks who are wealthy and have not seen discrimination are an anomaly. blacks who make it there are making it there DESPITE being black.

    affirmative action is about diversity. it’s not about just letting colored people in. diversity among colored people would include rich blacks, poor blacks, rich whites, poor whites, etc. it’s not all about race

    not rj Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I’m aware people have different opinions. You’re not ignorant because you have a conflicting opinion from me. You’re ignorant because you suggest that just because a minority family is wealthy, they must not be disadvantaged. Do you understand that disadvantages are present in aspects of life other than how much money your parents make? Do you think that people are racist only towards poor minorities and not against wealthy minorities? Your opinion comes from a place of such privilege or ignorant bliss where you would have to have more life experiences to form a more educated opinion.


    rj Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    So again, how are minorities from wealthy backgrounds discriminated against to deserve preferential treatment in terms of college admissions?

    I’m sure that kid who is 1/8 Native American and comes from a wealthy neighborhood really needs to be helped out by affirmative action. Disadvantaged? You’ve got to be kidding me.


  68. Excuse you. on October 17th, 2012 6:37 pm

    Really? This is one of the most ignorant comments I’ve ever read. The fact is, the societal growth of minorities in America has been stunted by WHITES (Slavery, Chinese Exclusion Act, etc.) “…if you’re so goddamned interested in representing the oppression of your ancestors, show them that you can work just as hard as they worked to change their own lives.” UM, REALLY? That’s the equivalent of a white people telling everyone else “WELL, YOU BETTER CATCH UP ON YOUR OWN EVEN THOUGH I WAS BORN INTO PRIVILEGE AND IT’S MY ANCESTOR’S FAULT THAT YOU ARE AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PYRAMID IN AMERICA.” C’mon. Check your privilege.


  69. WhitePerson on October 17th, 2012 6:40 pm



    WhiterPerson Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    “If you’re white and you don’t admit that it’s great, you’re an a******.”



  70. Will on October 17th, 2012 6:40 pm

    Boy, Sydney, do I think you’re wrong, but hell if you’re not brave for saying so. I encourage you to seek out students who are very different from yourself during your time at Northwestern.


  71. jay3135 on October 17th, 2012 6:43 pm

    Just Googled “Sydney Zink.” Found a Twitter handle with the following headline: “Keepin’ it middle classy.” Need I say more? It also appears that she’s from one of the wealthiest suburbs in the Atlanta area. Now, I don’t like to cast regional stereotypes… but come on. It’s too easy.


  72. Enough on October 17th, 2012 6:57 pm

    Noun 1. newspaper column – an article giving opinions or perspectives.

    She gave opinion and you’ve given yours, so leave her alone. You’ve ruined her life enough for one quarter. I’m disappointed in you Northwestern.


  73. CJ on October 17th, 2012 6:58 pm

    This article angers me. I can’t speak for this girl or any of the other people who oppose affirmative action, but saying that being called a rich white person is worse than any racial slur is a joke. I don’t know what this girls home life is like, but maybe she should look around campus. I go to Indiana University and there is a SMALL amount of minority students here. Affirmative action is a way to give an underrepresented population an opportunity to improve their status. My grandmother had to go to an all black high school which limited the education she had. This limited the resources my mother had which in turn limited the resources I’ve had. Think of this as a whole nation instead of just one girl. Abigail Fisher didn’t even meet the qualifications nor did she have the credentials of the people who got in over her. She was a legacy who expected to get in and when she didn’t, she got angry. Think about things as a whole instead of on an individual basis before you post an article.


  74. NU Faculty on October 17th, 2012 7:04 pm

    As a Northwestern faculty member who also happens to be a member of an underrepresented minority, all I have to say is that this is disheartening, and disturbing, and also incredibly embarrassing for the young lady who wrote it. I hope it starts a productive dialogue on campus. Most of all, though, it just makes me sad.


    Alumni Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:16 pm

    Excuse me, NU faculty. Her point may not have been well written, but you should still respect the fact that she had the guts to put herself out there and express it. Additionally, just because you don’t agree with a position doesn’t mean its wrong. As an educator, who is advocating the value of diversity, why not respect diversity of opinion. Finally, she is a Freshman, give her some time to grow.


    Cory Slowik Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:20 pm


    She wrote an article. She has to be prepared for criticism. Those who are attacking her personally are wrong, but to say her opinion is based on systemic racism (it is) is not attacking her! It isn’t silencing diversity of opinion! It is responding to something she put out in public.


    NU Sucks Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 11:03 pm

    I think this faculty member is totally out of line and it’s a good thing for her sake that she didn’t reveal her identity in any more detail.

    to say that Sydney’s article is “incredibly embarrassing” is borderline cruel. That would never be an acceptable response from a professor toward a freshman’s work in a real classroom (and if a professor did say something like that, I think the student would have every right to report it to the school’s Dean).

    there’s nothing constructive about this comment; if anything, I think it will scare the poor girl away from intellectual curiosity if this is the sort of response she can expect from any ideas that don’t fit the PC crowd’s party line.

    It was just an arrogant and mean-spirited comment.

    (also: these “productive dialogues” never seem to be too productive, do they? The only concrete thing the “diversity” talk after the “race olympics” led to was Northwestern adding one more administrator to its already bloated payroll)

    BRAVERY Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Wow. You are so courageous, “NU FACULTY.” Please tell us, how do you get so brave as to anonymously call a student–voicing a perfectly legitimate policy position–“embarrassing.” It is a good thing you are teaching the young adults of this university the basic virtues and standards of integrity that decent people abide by.


  75. rj on October 17th, 2012 7:05 pm

    The real people who are disadvantaged are the people from poor neighborhoods who go to terrible schools that get hardly any funding. Those people may be minorities, but those people also may not be minorities. I’m not in love with affirmative action but if you’re going to do it, tie it to socioeconomic status and school quality, not race. There are plenty of poor whites who could serve to benefit from affirmative action in their favor.


  76. Oh man. on October 17th, 2012 7:13 pm

    Let me just say: Sydney, please do all of us (yourself included) a favor and take an ethnic studies class as soon as possible. You will learn so, so much.
    Now. Okay, I’m Mexican-American (and that probably just gave me away because you know me). Came from a terrible, underperforming public high school. Literally one of the worst schools in Illinois. Parents immigrated from Mexico. Wanted a better life for their kids, all that jazz. I can definitely tell you that I did not get the same opportunities as some of the white people I have talked to here. My school didn’t have a recording studio, or even cameras. Nor did it have TVs in every classroom and money to sponsor study abroad trips every semester.
    It’s not my fault I was born into this. White people should acknowledge the fact that they have it better in America. Minorities need to be compensated because of all the racism they face on a daily basis. Tell me Sydney, have you ever driven through town and been afraid of getting pulled over because of your race? Has anyone every told you to “go back to your country” even if this is your country? How many times have people assumed you don’t speak English? Has anyone ever called you “exotic”? Did anyone warn you before coming to college about how things wouldn’t be like they were back home, that people might be prejudiced against the color of your skin? Did anyone ever tell you that you didn’t deserve to be valedictorian of your HS because the two white kids that were below you in rank were “obviously smarter…they’re white!”
    Probably not, right? That’s racism for you. You have it better. Whites have made it extremely hard for other minorities to advance because of racism and xenophobia. Look in any textbook. Slavery. Jim Crow Laws. And in the predominantly Hispanic community that I’m from, all we got were white people’s extras. Have you ever heard of a predominantly Black/Hispanic/Asian/etc. community with absolutely amazing, top-performing schools? Most likely, no (not that they don’t exist). Because these communities are not given the resources to have great schools.
    Affirmative action takes these things into account. It understand that institutionalized racism really does exist. And it’s not the only factor in college acceptances; it’s one of MANY.
    This isn’t supposed to be a sob story. But please, look at things from another perspective. And please check your privilege before writing again.
    Also, do your research.


    kristin Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Yes. I have heard of a predominantly Asian community with amazing, top-performing schools.

    It’s called the Cupertino (CA) school district, and it is 85-90% Asian.

    Any more questions?


    Ha Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    Are they in the majority? No. Also, one doesn’t hear about them often. Or at all.
    Nice try.


    kristin Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    what the hell are you talking about?

    85-90% of a population is not the majority?

    Also, a sub-urban school district usually accounts for the population of the surrounding area (in this case, roughly by city). Which I can quite affirmatively say is about 80-80% Asian.

    The question posed above was: ” Have you ever heard of a predominantly Black/Hispanic/Asian/etc. community with absolutely amazing, top-performing schools?”

    The city of Cupertino, CA is a “predominantly Asian community with top-performing schools.”

    I answered the question.

    And I lived there, so I know what the hell I am talking about. The district is so full of top-performing students, that there are huge waitlists to get into AP classes.

    I do hope you are not a student at Northwestern, because you utterly fail at reading comprehension.

    But then, perhaps you are someone proving all of us anti-AA people’s points about lowering standards for admittance…

    And yes, I am a bitch. Actually, I am not a bitch. I am THE bitch, and that is Ms. Bitch to all you dolts

  77. kristin on October 17th, 2012 7:32 pm

    the level of savagery and just arrogant disdain for someone with whose opinion you disagree displayed on this page just sickens me.

    I hope you people are happy. While I agree she should have used numbers and facts to boost her point, the level of personal attack and complete invalidation of her point by people is sickening.

    What is more sickening is that such an attack came from an NU faculty member. If a student at a university can’t voice an opinion without fear of attack from professors, then the mission of a university really has failed.

    Frankly, this whole thing is making profoundly ashamed of my school and seriously question the kind of values NU seeks to promote. Perhaps it is not intellectual endeavor after all, but the creation of like-minded automatons.

    And no, before you accuse me of being some crazy conservative, I have seen as bad and worse from the evangelicals on certain choice topics, and would have some choice words for them, as well.

    Basically, the older I get, and the more I see of this from my fellow man, the less time and patience I have for it, and the more I am embarrassed to call myself a member of species homo sapien sapien. If reincarnation is a thing…I hope I come back as an animal in a remote part of the world, far away from humans. We have failed in reaching our potential as intellectual, enlightened beings, capable of reason and intellectual discussion, of an ability to agree to disagree. And you all are proof of it. But then the history of people is depraved, so maybe such enlightenment was never possible to begin with.

    In conclusion: You should all be ashamed of yourselves.


    SillyThingsWhitePeopleSay Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:19 pm


    People should not make fun of her, call her names and make fun of her personal appearance. It makes the conversation even more difficult then it already is because of the subject matter. I can agree with you there. However, not everyone is doing that to her. Disagreeing with her is not a personal attack and the post by the NU faculty member was hardly an attack. It was an expression of disappointment. Do you not see how some of what was said in the original article may have been offensive to people of color? Should we response by being equally offensive? Nope we should not. But pointing out that there are other sides and that she is speaking from a position of white privilege can only be personal attack if you are too stubborn to acknowledge something that is fairly obvious


    NU Sucks Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    it really is sickening. so glad I’ll be done with this school in a few months. then I can go out and get my real education.


  78. Becky on October 17th, 2012 7:36 pm

    Before I give an unpopular opinion, I will say this: It was ridiculous that the editors and whatever other higher-ups of The Daily let this go to print without confronting her about lack of knowledge of the subject – they should have pointed her in the direction to some research. If anything, I am much more upset with the Daily for the inaccuracy and insensitivity in this article than I am with the writer of the article.

    Seriously, y’all. She’s human. She’s a freshman, and the first month of college is an adjustment and I know you all remember bouncing around from one friend group to another. We all did it. So… can you imagine how difficult it’ll be for this girl to walk around campus tomorrow with all the mocking and the teasing? I wish the article hadn’t posted her email address for this same reason – with all the outspoken people on our campus, I worry for her mental health tonight with all the emails she must be receiving. It really needs to stop.

    Her opinions are unresearched, and many are insulting and ridiculous. I definitely disagree with many things she had to say. I also understand the importance of affirmative action. However, I do personally feel that sometimes affirmative action is taken too far and does have some negative consequences that people often ignore because they are afraid to speak up. I’m glad someone did — I just wish that someone was a person who was more informed about the issue, or if not that they would’ve at least done some research before writing.

    Here’s the bottom line – EVERYONE: Stop making this girl’s life a living hell tonight and get on with your own.


  79. Becky on October 17th, 2012 7:37 pm

    And after rereading it and going around the here-and-there stupidity and really getting to the meat of her argument, I gotta say:
    Sydney Zink has a valid point.


  80. you should be ashamed on October 17th, 2012 7:38 pm

    From a previous Zink column: “I personally enjoy integrating myself into circumstances or groups I do not readily relate to so I can gain firsthand insight into the organization of such thoughts, practices and structures.”

    Oh, really? Just as long as all those groups are full of rich, white kids…apparently the people suffering most from discrimination


    kristin Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    nice. real nice. way to keep it classy, douchebag

    you should be ashamed, why don’t you do us all a favor and crawl back to whatever sewer from whence you came?


    Martin Donovan Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    This is exactly what needs to be said. This is an article written by a white undergraduate perpetuating the entitlement at Northwestern – that because someone got into Northwestern they ‘earned it’. You have to realize, the education, parenthood, and way you were treated growing up was not constructed by you. As Obama said, ‘you didn’t build that’. You have to understand the limitations that are placed people of low socioeconomic means and this often affects minorities disproptionately.


  81. Jane Janeczko on October 17th, 2012 7:58 pm

    This girl is a freshman. Let’s all remember that. No matter how misguided/uninformed her opinions here are let’s not attack her.


  82. Martin Donovan on October 17th, 2012 8:54 pm

    I suppose you don’t understand the climate you are entering … Northwestern has been frought with racial problems around Halloween time.

    I don’t think this will improve the discussion.


  83. Anonymous on October 17th, 2012 8:56 pm

    Ms. Zink’s sentiments are already law in California and Washington and it is illegal to use Affirmative Action solely for the purpose of benefiting minorities in every state (for public institutions). It can only be used to increase diversity.


    To anyone that argues that AA is to counteract institutionalized racism, I leave you with this; If two applicants are exactly the same, same high school, same neighborhood, same grades, same friends even, the black student will have an advantage solely because of skin color. How is that right?


    Booker T. Washington Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Unless the white student’s parents went to the school in question (Legacy).


  84. Eric on October 17th, 2012 8:56 pm

    Ditto this. How is internet stalking someone and judging them based on their background considered an acceptable response?


  85. Fred Truth on October 17th, 2012 9:02 pm

    Zink went to a private school in GA, and tuition is $21,950.00 a year. See how quick you can find things on the Internet?


    Eric Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:07 pm


    That’s SO CREEPY.


    Fred Truth Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    It’s on Twitter. And it’s relevant to point out where she went to school, and that she lives in an “affluent” suburb of Atlanta, where the average family makes more than $100K a year. She has no context.


  86. Jason on October 17th, 2012 9:14 pm

    Wow, even more embarrassing behavior by allegedly tolerant members of the NU community!

    So far we’ve heard several “arguments”:

    1) She’s a racist
    2) She needs to take a sociology / african american studies / ethnic studies course
    3) She has white privilege
    4) She’s just a stupid freshman

    Conclusion: either she’s evil or she’s stupid.

    Nobody really seems to be considering the possibility that Sydney’s right. Nobody seems to really care about whether what she says is true, only that it’s “offensive”.

    This is phony intellectualism if I ever saw it. It’s so unfortunate that it comes with the attacking and bullying a member of our community.


    JM Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Every white person has white privilege. It’s not an insult; it’s simply a reality. What a white person does with that knowledge is up to them. Either they can acknowledge the fact that they are benefited hugely by the color of their skin or they can be ignorant of this fact and live up to privileged stereotypes.


  87. Jesus on October 17th, 2012 9:17 pm

    I’m from Austin Texas. A hispanic male. I went to a magnet high school. I was rejected from UT Austin in 2008. Pllllllllease get over yourself. You’re better off at Northwestern.


  88. Calm down on October 17th, 2012 9:18 pm

    Here is what Zink should have at least pointed to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/14/sunday-review/rethinking-affirmative-action.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

    This column would have been stronger had it hinged on SES, a factor that many studies prove is now more limiting than race when it come to access to higher education. Regardless, this column does not make Zink “racist,” although in light of recent sensationalized events at NU that label apparently applies to anyone who dares say something that questions any number of platitudes we are fed about diversity.

    I find it sad that students, and worse, faculty, have attacked Zink in such a way. Privilege is no longer inherently white and neither is racism.


  89. Chris Schmidt on October 17th, 2012 9:32 pm

    This was an editorial, so people shouldn’t be jumping on her for fact-checking, not including more references, etc.

    I think the biggest problem with this article (and most of the argumentation against AA, in general) is summed up in her description of the goal of the Civil Rights movement: “The dream of the Civil Rights Movement was that all people be judged by who they are rather than by the color of their skin.”

    The dream of the Civil Rights movement was not that society become color-blind, but rather that everyone in the country have equal access to opportunity. Regardless of your stance on institutionalized racism, white privilege, etc. it’s undeniable that the playing field in American society is slanted. The goal of AA is not to increase URM presence for the sake of URM presence, but to provide students who were denied the opportunities to qualify in a blind comparison (by no fault of their own) access to the best education possible. Somebody above referenced socio-economic status as the near racial barrier. I would guess within two or three generations, we’ll be hearing the same arguments for AA being applied to socio-economic status, and I think they’ll be just as valid.

    Beyond the “moral” imperative to make up for denied privileges, there’s also a strong economic/utilitarian argument. White men (and to a lesser extent white women) receive the lowest marginal returns from attending an elite university versus a middling university. Black men (and to a lesser extent black women) receive the highest. If the role of a university is to provide the best education possible and create the most utility for society through capable graduates, we should be encouraging, not simply accepting programs like AA.


    Talia Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Regardless of this being an editorial, there is no reason that she should just completely lack any sort of facts or serious empirical evidence. If anything, they would have made her point stronger. By spouting off the way she does, she does appear like a young white girl ranting about how the world is unfair to her.


  90. Backlash on October 17th, 2012 9:33 pm

    Some of the comments on this article are pretty rude. I shudder to think of all the unnecessary hatemail she’s getting right now. Zink definitely didn’t research her article topic fully, but I give her props for speaking up to a Northwestern community that in the recent past has demonstrated tolerance to the point of intolerance. Yes, she’s a white female criticizing affirmative action. Just because she’s white, doesn’t mean you know everything about her or the life experiences that helped her form her beliefs and opinions. Everyone is so shocked that they encountered an article like this. Did you realize you reading the FORUM section of the newspaper? Every once in awhile, Northwestern community, you might encounter an opinion that is different from your own. Your harsh overreaction stifles productive discourse and encourages disgusting homogeny of opinion at NU. Don’t you see that? I’m willing to bet you’ve had at least one opinion you’ve been too afraid to share with others at NU for fear of an absurd backlash like this. Zink’s argument may not be fully developed, but she touches upon the beginnings of arguments against affirmative action that many other people share. Maintain a sense of decorum, NU. Maybe you’ll learn something about other people who aren’t hypocritical, bleeding-heart liberals.


  91. A on October 17th, 2012 9:38 pm

    I’m appalled that The Daily would publish something like this. It’s unfortunate that Sydney chose to write such an incendiary article about something of which she is clearly uninformed, but the line of editors that this article should have gone through should have paused and reconsidered before publishing an article written by someone who’s done so little research. This is very disappointing.


  92. Anony-mouse on October 17th, 2012 9:50 pm

    Dear all who support or oppose the premise of this article. What would you think of an affirmative action program that was based on socioeconomic status rather than race (i.e. regardless of your race, if you come from a less advantaged background, you have a higher chance of getting in). Is that fair? Any opponents?


    Charlemagne in Sweatpants Reply:
    October 17th, 2012 at 11:49 pm

    I fully support this. See my comment below.


    puppy Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:59 am

    It already does take socioeconomic status into account you moron.


  93. A on October 17th, 2012 10:37 pm

    that most people here (with the exception of a few) don’t have the balls to include their full names/fully disclose who they are and still have the audacity to attack someone who’s disclosed everything about herself is ridiculous.

    stfu people, move on with your lives.


    Miriam Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:47 am

    This is ironic given that you identify yourself only as “A.”


    A Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:57 pm



  94. kristin on October 17th, 2012 10:46 pm


    In the future, it would do well to support arguments with concrete facts.

    But you have shown more panache, courage and fortitude than the hypocrite liberal Though Nazis (and yes I know Nazis were right-wing fascists, I’m using it in its more colloquial usage) probably ever will, since they will ever remain in their kumbya circle-jerk.

    Sometimes saying what needs to be said, or going against the grain, is hard, and you will get a lot of crap from lesser beings.

    But know you are far better person than any of the purveyors of PC-policedom could ever hope to be


    Cory Slowik Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:09 am

    omg guys i can’t someone else please respond to this comment i’m laughing to hard someone please


  95. Charlemagne in Sweatpants on October 17th, 2012 10:52 pm

    Latino male here. Mexican-American, if you care.

    I oppose race-based affirmative action from a policy standpoint as well as a personal standpoint. The policy arguments that most resonate with me – namely the problem of mismatch and the need for affirmative action based on class or income rather than race – have been made by several commenters above me and I won’t repeat them. Rest assured, they are vastly more important than any of my petty individual grievances, but I don’t like redundancy.

    The personal side of the issue is this: I am the poster child for the privileged minority applicant. I have brown skin, pitch-brown eyes, and ludicrously thick eyebrows. Both my parents were born to Mexican immigrants in San Antonio. My last name is unpronounceable by most Americans. I am, technically, a minority.

    And yet I was raised in one of the wealthiest suburbs in the nation, in a school district routinely ranked as explemplary, in a world where the only hints of danger were the periodic bomb threats by students who were were bored out of their minds by how damn SAFE everything was. I was never on the receiving end of racial taunts or threats; I never felt discriminated against or looked down upon or otherwise because of my ethnicity. In short, I did not deserve affirmative action of any sort. And yet there is little doubt in my mind that my race was, in some way, a factor in my admission. And that bothers me.

    It bothers me because college admissions is a zero-sum game; there are white and Asian students from much less privileged backgrounds who were at a relative disadvantage in the college admissions process because of the advantage I was given. Their stories, their struggles, and the obstacles they had to overcome are deemed by the admissions officers to be less important than the non-existent “struggles” I had to go through as an upper-middle-class Latino. It also bothers me because close to three-fourths of my friends in high school were Asian-American, so I got to witness firsthand the handicaps that go along with not being the “right” minority. TL;DR: it sucks.

    And yes, I recognize that white privilege is a thing. I recognize that racism still exists, that class structures and race and educational opportunities are heavily intertwined, and that most blacks and Latinos and Native Americans are in much worse situations than me and my Asian buddies. But all of that doesn’t add up to a cogent defense of the current race-based system. Because as long as people like me continue to exist, the system will always have cracks in it.

    What objection could there possibly be to a system that, on a case-by-case basis, weighs factors such as family income/wealth, school quality, and documented instances of discrimination or hardship, rather than using race as a quick and easy shorthand for disadvantage? That way, students of ALL races who come from underprivileged backgrounds would get a fighting chance of admission, while the privileged minorities who never experienced hardship or discrimination (including me) would be judged solely on merit.

    Also, Zink is indeed the flyest of all possible names.


    rj Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:48 am

    Very, very good response. Spot on.


    Closer to home Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:27 am



    Sarah Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:52 am

    They should print your response as the next column.


  96. Monica WCAS07 on October 17th, 2012 10:56 pm

    I hope you sign up for one of Professor Celeste Watkins-Hayes classes. She is really good at explaining these complicated subjects. Being a Northwestern freshman is really wonderful because you have 4 more years to learn to and grown.


  97. Mr. TK on October 17th, 2012 11:10 pm
  98. Nick on October 17th, 2012 11:34 pm

    People please.

    I agree with you 100% Sydney. Don’t let them stop you from writing.


    Miriam Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Who on earth is trying to stop her?


  99. Cory Slowikon October 18th, 2012 1:19 am

    Everybody sing it with me!

    Critique on a public piece is not hatemail!
    Recognition of systemic oppressions is not “political correctness”!
    And NU is NOT by any stretch of the imagination liberal.


    A Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:59 pm

    there’s a difference between critique and lambasting here


  100. Joe Smith on October 18th, 2012 2:00 am

    This freshman probably isn’t racist, she’s probably honestly ticked off. Wouldn’t you if someone claimed you’ve lived a privileged life and so we’re going to draft policies intended to disenfranchise people of your skin color? Odd.

    I find the personal offense comments and psycho-analysis comments nauseating, and I’m sorry, throwing out the buzz theory “white privilege” as though it’s indisputable truth is, to me, a bit bizarre. There are far far far more interesting factors at play that disenfranchise people and they are to a fault left unaddressed in the white privilege paradigm. I understand however that we need to eliminate the immoral bias in decision making- eliminate the fundamental human instinct to trust someone who looks like us and sounds like us, shares my background, while passing over perhaps a better qualified candidate in the process. I get that institutionalized power structures over centuries have benefited white males generally, and that statistically we still see evidence of these power structures today in business- all the white male bosses therefore have a tendency to hire another white male employee to succeed him. This I understand, and we need to break down this inefficient, morally reprehensible barrier. But a university is no place to be making such racial distinctions, no place to be drafting policies that lower the standard of success in order to accommodate a critical mass of particular skin colors.

    If there are failings that are racially biased at lower academic levels then we ought to address them at the source primarily. I just don’t buy the notion that engendered stereotypes by academics and peers in grades K-12 are somehow the driving factor in holding back kids when it comes to education. Family structure, economic factors, regional, and educational influences are certainly more imporant. Note though how none of these are race based barrier measures, and there’s really no check box.

    If we have most control over fixing regionalized K-12 schools failing, which I suspect we do, please explain why the very people calling for affirmative action measures are also opposing school choice initiatives, and private school vouchers for inner city youth???

    That’s the crux of the issue. Fix our education system where it is broken, and award success at the collegiate level so that every minority can shake this false stereotype that if you’re a minority in college you got help from affirmative action, and avoid a current trend where people are accepted to school’s in over their heads, struggle to succeed and feel stereotyped because of it (look at dropout rates). I see attending a good college as an achievement first and foremost which is why I draw a line when Universities are drafting policies to accommodate one race over another. You’re playing with people’s lives and hard work.

    To intentionally revise the standards of academic admission in an attempt to equalize ends is just wrong and I’d argue it’s counter productive in terms of results and affecting a racial culture change. I’m white, no expert on the topic, and I have little stake in this game now as a happily employed graduate though, and so I have no interest in writing a dissertation or fact based research paper as this discussion properly demands. The bottom line is though that this article deserves a much better discussion than the monolithic outrage it’s received. Step it up NorthWestern!


  101. Hmm on October 18th, 2012 2:16 am

    I’m actually really like to know if Zink sees every minority at NU as an affirmative action charity case that didn’t get in based on merit but instead on, apparently, race. Because OBVIOUSLY, race is the only factor in admissions!


  102. Just my opinion on October 18th, 2012 2:50 am

    What is with this idea that just because something it an “opinion” it can’t be right or wrong.

    Consider the following: I believe that cars should be banned because a single car traveling a certain distance produces the same amount of harmful emissions as a jet airliner traveling the same distance.

    I’ll tell you right now that I don’t anything about the comparative environmental impacts of cars and jets, but I do know this: If it’s not true that cars generate as much CO2 as jets, then I’m WRONG.

    But that’s just my opinion.


    Just my opinion Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 3:53 am

    Correction: “…wrong?”


    Your opinion is wrong Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 5:29 am

    This guy says it better than I do:


    “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are only entitled to what you can argue for. The problem with “I’m entitled to my opinion” is that, all too often, it’s used to shelter beliefs that should have been abandoned. It becomes shorthand for “I can say or think whatever I like” – and by extension, continuing to argue is somehow disrespectful. And this attitude feeds, I suggest, into the false equivalence between experts and non-experts that is an increasingly pernicious feature of our public discourse.”

    So, you may be entitled to AN opinion that “cars should be banned because a single car traveling a certain distance produces the same amount of harmful emissions as a jet airliner traveling the same distance.”

    Just as Zink may be entitled to HER opinion that “Affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.” Or ” merit be damned as the country continues to self-medicate with affirmative action to relieve its guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part.”

    But, as the article states: “if “entitled to an opinion” means “entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth” then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.”

    Zink can opine whatever she wishes in this public forum. And she shouldn’t be very surprised at the heated comments she’s getting, since folks can opine right back.

    The trick is to find “serious candidates for truth” on either side. For example it seems the most effective arguments against Zink’s article, are those that attack the veracity of her claims (rather than making assumptions based on where she’s from or her appearance for example). However all comments have been at times thought – provoking, infuriating and generally a great read!


    Just my opinion Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    Yeah, I totally agree with everything you said but didn’t feel like drawing out the entire argument. Lol.

    “[If] “entitled to an opinion” means “entitled to have your views treated as serious candidates for the truth” then it’s pretty clearly false. And this too is a distinction that tends to get blurred.”

    That’s so perfect.

  103. Do this Experiment on October 18th, 2012 5:56 am

    You say that we are no longer a segregated society. Do this experiment:

    2pm in the afternoon, take a walk west down the 5900 W block of Division street in Chicago. When you cross Austin Blvd into Oak Park, IL observe the differences in housing, the skin color of residents, and overall quality of life of the people walking down the street.

    Experiment #2. Take a tour of New Trier High School in Winnetka. Then, take a school tour of Fenger High School in Chicago. Better yet, don’t even go that far south into the city. Take a tour of any neighborhood CPS high school and then come back and write an opinion piece on your observations. JUST rely on your observations. Talk to some of the students at both schools, and ask them if the “American Dream” is obtainable. (WBEZ Radio is doing a news series similar to this: http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/question-answered-how-does-perception-american-dream-differ-around-chicago ).

    I will look forward to your new opinion piece after you’ve done this experiment.


    Closer to home Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Actually going further east past the train tracks down good old Emerson in Evanston and comparing it to north of campus would work just as well…


  104. Booker T. Washington on October 18th, 2012 8:17 am

    Hey let’s get rid of those Indian reservations too! And why are we paying military pensions for a bunch of soldiers who fought in wars that happened when we weren’t born yet?! In fact let’s only shoulder responsibility and sacrifice for things that happened when we were alive! Because after all it’s only about us right? None of our generation should be responsible for the sins of our forefathers.

    Except you’re living in a fantasy Sydney! African Americans like me have always always always been, as a whole, inferior in America. Most black Americans aren’t the descendants of skyward-gazing immigrants who came here seeking a better freer life. We came West on slave ships. White America committed a historical wrong and should make an honest effort to make it right. That was the idea behind reconstruction, until it was cancelled, and that’s the idea behind affirmative action, unless it gets cancelled.

    The idea that the precious precious meritocracy is somehow in danger is hilarious. Wait until you graduate and look for jobs and find that ‘who you know’ will generate more opportunities and interviews for you than anything you put on the resume. Yes, maybe college admissions are the last precious bastion of meritocracy, but for goodness sake, affirmative action has been going on for years, and it’s not as if the quality of ‘college’ has somehow suffered.

    Race matters. And every time you or your friends refer to the neighborhoods west of Ridge as ‘shady’ or ‘dangerous’ or dress up as gangster rappers for costume parties you are having a dialogue with America’s long dark racial past. As level as the playing field is, the practice facilities are still wildly unequal.

    And Sydney you are probably facing more rancor than you ever expected, but you have kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest. You can either stonewall and wait for Ann Coulter to swoop in and rescue you, or you can try to understand where all these angry people are coming from. I hope you choose the latter.


  105. Richard on October 18th, 2012 9:07 am

    If the college admissions were truly a merit-based system, then only criteria would be reviewed: SAT/ACT score and GPA. But it is not. It is a holistic approach that views the entire sum of a person. Ms. Zink attended a summer theater program at Brown University (cost $7,000). Did this experience find its way into her admission application? She attended an elite private school in Atlanta (cost $20,000+ annually). Was the identity of her private school included in the application. One of her biggest laments at home is that her household is without HBO. Both of her parents are corporate attorneys with university educations from Princeton, Emory, and UVA. Is it wrong for Northwestern to seek to diversify its offering of an elite education to those who have not enjoyed such life privileges? Moreso, why is Ms. Zink so unrelenting to acknowledge the life blessings bestowed upon her and to seek to share with others?


    Well said Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:58 am

    Thank you.


  106. Roger Almendarez on October 18th, 2012 9:19 am

    Affirmative action, while it may help get you into an institution, will in no way help you graduate from one. The assumption inherent in this piece is that students of color are not only initially unqualified, but will also continue to be unqualified throughout their tenure, thus making affirmative action wasteful. The idea is to provide ONE extra deciding factor to a student’s application that will help in their acceptance. Affirmative action isn’t a pass for the unqualified, but rather an equalizer to help account for disparities in other arenas. You state in your writing that “one is more likely to hear…sneers about [rich white people]..than anything… [negative] about minorities.” This is a general statement that is simply a case of bad writing. “One” does not exist here, but rather “you” is what you should use. YOU feel that you don’t hear/see racism. Hence, YOU assume that racism doesn’t exist. The belief that YOUR point of view and perception should trump others is akin to what can be classified as a racist mentality. If people of color feel that racism still exists, and the numbers demonstrate that people of color are disproportionately disadvantaged, then there is clearly something that is affecting people of color. White supremacists have argued that “minorities” are in their lower class positions because there is something inherent in their races that makes them prone to failure, poverty, etc. Rather than make this same assumption, the writers of Affirmation Action legislation decided to assume that society was to blame, rather than race. While affirmative action has not cured social inequalities among people of color, it has definitely helped, and will continue to give those less fortunate the help necessary to rise up. As a nation, we agreed that affirmative action was/is necessary. Until we see figures that truly demonstrate that Affirmative Action doesn’t help those segments of the population that need the extra boost (including women), it needs to stick around. Otherwise, things for people of color will only get worse, which is, at the end of it all, what you are advocating for in your piece of writing. You’re at Northwestern, be happy, and don’t assume that every person of color you see is around you simply because of affirmative action. Unless you can see people’s applications in their entirety, your assumptions about them are merely reflections of your own beliefs.


    Thomas Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 9:49 am

    What role did geography (the South, Georgia) and non-academic characteristics (interest in film study, gender, sexual orientation, ability to pay full tuition freight, varied summer experiences) assume in her admissions candidacy?


  107. Richard on October 18th, 2012 9:22 am

    The author’s dream colleges were USC (Cinematic Arts) and NYU (Tisch) for film study. Is this article reflective of some bitterness or frustration on her part for presumed rejections from these schools? Mummy and Papa can buy you a summer program experience, but can not guarantee you admissions to the dream college of your choosing. A bigger question: Why was she selected to be a columnist when she admits that “I have not had any formal background in journalism before arriving at Northwestern”? Maybe the editorial staff of the Daily employed “affirmative action” to include diverse voices of opinions from the likes of inexperienced and unproven freshmen with Southern plantation viewpoints. If it were a meritocracy, she — like Abigail Fisher — would not and should not have been selected to pen such high school like editorials.


    rj Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:44 am

    After reading this post, I really thought the NU community was better than this. Disgusting.


    Wtf Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:53 am

    Oh please. Most of your comments are disgustingly bigoted. Sit down.


    rj Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Really? There’s a significant difference between discussing issues and completely lambasting the character and discussing the private life of a college freshman who wrote an opinion piece.

    Again, I see many of the so called champions and advocates of “diversity” at NU completely incapable of accepting someone else’s viewpoint without making digs at their private life or appearance. Hypocrisy much?

  108. nu_soph on October 18th, 2012 9:48 am

    Although the author’s opinion is not popular, I do agree with it. From my own personal experience, I was rejected from univ of michigan, but accepted to NU. Although u of m has had legal issues in the past over affirmative action has supposedly changed its ways, I still think remnants of the system are still there. Their application even asks you to talk about a “community” you belong to, which may mean they look for more diverse students over academic merit.


    Thomas Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Could you have been rejected based on your own accord, and without having to blame affirmative action? Were your credentials so astonishing that beyond a shadow of doubt you should have been admitted? Yeah, right.


  109. Thomas on October 18th, 2012 10:14 am

    You claim Michigan looked for diversity over academic qualities. Did you not submit SAT/ACT scores and a high school transcript? Perhaps these colleges are seeking to add to their student body more than just resume-padding, grade-grubbing, fact-citing, helicopter-parented, one-dimensional robotrons. A community of uniformity does not suit the purpose of enlightening young minds. Get over it.


  110. College Alum on October 18th, 2012 10:19 am

    Wouldn’t get to worked up about it. This student has been in college for all of a month and is just parroting stale talking points — not even offering a thoughtful, fresh or personalized take on the issue. The low raw admissions data for URMs debunks everything she says.


  111. Haters gonna hate on October 18th, 2012 11:33 am

    I’m white (though by no means blonde, blue eyed, or rich – and it’s fine if you are any of those things) and people always told me my foreign zip code on my application was what got me into Northwestern (my family lived outside the US for most of my life). How do I know I actually deserved to be there? I graduated in June with honors and am now going to med school. Idiots are homogeneously distributed and will always try to bring you down. Doesn’t matter if it’s race, where you applied from, or whether you had a point more or less on some stupid standardized test. If you’re not dropping out of college you deserve to be there (and even if you’re dropping out, it might have nothing to do with how bright you are; life gets tough sometimes). It’s idiots like Abigail Fisher that don’t realize they got rejected because they’re stupid, not because they’re white. Reading this column made me cringe. It’s sad that racism rears its ugly head at NU in such ways. It’s obvious, especially after the article about Kellyn Lewis and friends published during the 2011-2012 school year, that the Daily has no standards. Ms. Zink, didn’t your mother ever teach you that if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing? I hope you benefit from some of the amazing professors at NU (Michelle Wright, Celeste Watkins-Hayes to name a few) and are able to broaden your horizons. Sit down for coffee with these amazing women and feel free to ask them your most controversial questions. I dare say they will be much more forgiving and understanding than this online thread. I’ll admit they are stronger, more patient people than I am.


  112. Joe Smith on October 18th, 2012 11:38 am

    People are still missing the point. Fundamental question is should school’s be able to draft policies designed to disenfranchise a particular race based on perceived or statistically evident privilege? Furthermore should admissions policies include race at all? Should race be the primary indicator of a barrier and is college admissions the proper place for accounting for them? Statistical indicator: Schools where admission policies promote racial preferences see a greater disparity in graduation rates between races. Isn’t this counter-productive to changing bigoted attitudes about race? Shouldn’t diversity be seen as more of a happenstance of schools selecting the most qualified students with the most intriguing essays and experiences, rather than making the assumption that with racial diversity comes intellectual diversity? Focusing on broad sweeping rules intended to tilt the scales towards one race, inherently at the expense of another, is just bad policy and it hurts race relations.


    Sam Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    “Focusing on broad sweeping rules intended to tilt the scales towards one race, inherently at the expense of another, is just bad policy and it hurts race relations.”

    It’s not about “broad” or “sweeping” judgments. A qualified student is a qualified student. But our “objective” measures of that qualification (SAT scores, AP tests, etc) are anything but–and there’s a wide body of data to support this. “Merit” (as raised by the article and several commenters) simply doesn’t exist in any objective capacity, and the system we’ve created to measure it is unfairly skewed towards white, middle-class, heterosexual values; recognizing this fact (and structuring your admissions system to compensate for it) only hurts race relations if you’re trying to maintain an oppressive status quo.

    And if you accept that a school like Northwestern is going to accept only a small percentage of its applicants, then (from the zero-sum perspective) every admission has to come at the expense of another admission. The zero-sum approach, while appealing to anyone who’s ever gone through the stress of applying to colleges, simply isn’t productive.


    Just my opinion Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    I think you’re missing the point. The reaction to the article isn’t so much about the merits (or lack thereof) of affirmative action. Commenters are reacting to a weak, shortsighted, racist critique of affirmative action.

    Look, I support affirmative action and even I agree that it has its issues. The legislation comes from the Kennedy-LBJ era. The Civil Rights Movement began, what, 8? 9? 10 years before? So yeah, it made sense for “race [to] be the primary indicator of a barrier,” and, yes, “college admissions [was] the proper place for accounting for them.” But we all know that things have changed, and I can’t imagine many people disagreeing with exchanging economic background for race in affirmative action policies.

    But (sadly) that’s neither here nor there.

    This article uses inflammatory language to prove what could have otherwise been a (possibly) rational opinion against affirmative action. The point is that calling “we of merit” (which MUST INEVITABLY include Sydney Zink) “victims” of affirmative action and the argument that “one is more likely to hear disapproving sneers about ‘rich white people’ than anything derogatory about minorities” is just “dangerously shortsighted.”


  113. B. Johnson on October 18th, 2012 12:37 pm

    I think dumb people are vastly under-represented at our nation’s top schools. I think we should include programs to increase the diversity of intellectual capacity at these institutions.


  114. Sally Verdad on October 18th, 2012 12:45 pm

    When I went to NU, I attended a focus group for a consulting company, mainly because there was free pizza. Since there was free pizza, I asked a friend to go along, too. The focus group was about shopping behaviors, from what I can remember. And several white students complained that when shopping at clothing stores, employees are always asking, “May I help you?” If we need help, we’ll ask for it, we said. Well, a Hispanic student eventually pointed out that when she goes into stores, she often is not asked whether she needs help, and she assumes it’s because the workers think she doesn’t speak English. Now, that is not a traumatic experience. At least, I think it isn’t. But I find examples like that to be compelling. It’s those little way of life things that illustrate race most strongly. Like the idea that almost every black parent, at some point in time, tells their kids how to respond when a cop wrongly pulls them over. Or the countless stories of black, upper-class Americans driving around nice neighborhoods to look at houses, and someone calls the cops.


  115. H.E. Pennypacker on October 18th, 2012 12:47 pm

    I think that the author brings up a great point. America should not have to jump after any sort of reparation it can find for a past that we are admittedly not proud of. Affirmative action is a degrading system in both schools and work that is fundamentally opposed to what our nation was founded on: capitalism and fair chances. The fact that a person is black should not mean that he can charge 20% more than a white contractor of equal credentials for a public project and still end up winning it. America has admitted to her wrongdoings and has made a concerted effort to undo it. What ever happened to that sage piece of common sense that two wrongs don’t make a right? We were wrong with racism. But should we try to correct that with a new form of racism that is balanced the other way? I think not. Equality of results is not what America believes in, and should not be something we pursue through programs like these.


    Just my opinion Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    ” America should not have to jump after any sort of reparation it can find for a past that we are admittedly not proud of.”

    Why not?

    Maybe I’m naive, but I don’t see anything wrong with CONTINUING TO make a “concerted effort to undo it.”

    What do you think would happen if the US focused (what you would consider) an absurd amount of energy into tearing apart institutionalized racism and all its effects?

    Are you afraid that under-represented minorities would *GASP* be on equal playing fields with the middle class? Or do you fear the nightmare of institutions of higher education and the professional sphere actually reflecting the demographics of the country?


  116. Sally Verdad on October 18th, 2012 1:01 pm

    One more point, and I think this has been brought up in the comments, is the idea of “merit.” Let’s say I went to one of the best high schools in the country, where pretty much everyone is gunning for the Ivy League, and I have many older classmates who can give me advice on college admissions. I take an expensive prep course for the ACT or SAT, and end up with a score that puts me in the ballpark for admission to NU.

    Compare that to a kid who is pretty much the only person in his small, rural district looking to go to college out of state. He does all the research on his own, and studies on his own for the tests, does about as well as anyone from his school has ever done, and scores a bit lower than the person mentioned above. Who has more “merit”?

    Through being at NU, many of your preconceived notions will change, and some will stay the same. One of my closest friends at NU was an immigrant, and she got into a bit of a snafu when her tuition bill was sent to her parents, and they couldn’t read English. So here she is having to handle her own bills and all the college paperwork, while my parents just write a check for me. How many times, when homework stumped me as a kid, did I just go ask my dad for help? What if that was not available to me? What if I had to work in high school, and college? How would that have impacted my grades, or my ability to pad my resume by going out for certain activities? Just look at your life and think about how wonderful your circumstances are. Sure, I worked hard. But I can’t say I worked harder than my friend, who had lower grades than I did but might have been tripped up a bit by, well, doing almost everything on her own.


    Sam Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 1:17 pm

    Yeah, pretty much this exactly.


  117. DW on October 18th, 2012 1:59 pm

    Yo she said that “Affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.”

    I can’t believe y’all allow stuff like that to be published. Pro-con column series or not, that’s one of the most ridiculous sentences I’ve ever seen printed.


    idk Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I don’t think so. Martin Luther King had the vision and drive necessary to fight against the injustice that blacks in America had to suffer through. That injustice was disgusting. All she is stating is that a similar injustice is going on now. Affirmative action is prejudiced against whites in America. It is not nearly to the scale that african americans had to deal with, but it is the same beast. MLK didn’t want african american people to get preferential treatment. He wanted equality. Treating people of black descent differently for better or worse is demeaning. Rewarding smaller accomplishments due simply to a person’s race is a dangerous path to take, and could get quite slippery if the trend continues and affirmative action outweighs merit any further.


    DW Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    So the students of AFRICAN and indigenous descent actually were more qualified than the girl filing the lawsuit. Top 10% of their HS classes, etc. That’s been said by UT Admissions themselves.

    Now that the facts are out, let me repost the author’s quote: “Affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.”
    That’d be “no less an ill” as in like equal, as in Affirmative Action, in her opinion, is equally evil as the capitalism, imperialism, and racism that King died fighting against. She didn’t say similar, she said equal. And that’s about as far from reality as the printed word can get.

    Try looking at it like a race, like a competition. Say all the white runners got a 400 year/meter head start. If you want all the other non-white runners to be able to catch up, you either need to give them a boost just like the white runners previously enjoyed, or you need to force all the white runners to come to a halt while the rest catch up.

    If you don’t mind white folks having to come to a complete stop, that’s fine. I doubt that though. So, that’s why affirmative action and other programs are in place. Institutions that combat the inequalities our society is founded and continues to thrive on.


    idk Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    What about people born in South Africa that are white do they get affirmative action? Or the downtrodden parts of Europe? Not all White folks are created equal. Just like all african/latino/asian people are not. I think an important thing is to encourage a “pull yourself up by your boots mentality”. Also capitalism isn’t evil and I do not think MLK was anti capitalism. Affirmative action costs money and wastes talent. It’s a backwards solution to an over-exaggerated problem.

    DW Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    So MLK was actually a hated man during the last 2-3 years of his life. Here’s a link to a 1967 speech he gave explicitly questioning the legitimacy of global capitalism: http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/45a/628.html.
    There’s a reason that part about him doesn’t get taught in schools.

    Also, regarding your example of unequal White folks, you’ve overlooked the centuries of colonial exploitation and genocide that put those unfortunate, affirmative action-plagued White South Africans in that country in the first place. They aren’t native to South Africa fam.
    I will never deny that there are White folks on the losing end of the class war we call Western society. There are millions. However, you again fail to ask the critical questions. Why are these people locked in perpetual poverty? Who benefits from that White poverty? It’s the same people who benefit from the subjugation of Black, Brown, and all other peoples of color.

    What exactly is the “over-exaggerated problem” you’re referring to? I’d like to take you on a tour of the South and West Sides of Chicago if you think racial and class domination are over-exaggerated.

  118. Warren Lawson on October 18th, 2012 2:24 pm

    It is as unfortunate today as it was in 1972 that some white folk don’t or can’t GET IT!!! The laws on Affirmative Action provide a level playing field for everyone. Universities can now look at a number of qualities, including grades, to insure a rich and diverse environment for all students. By the way, I know one our Affrican American alums, whose son was a 4.0 student who did not get into NU because he didn’t do anything but study. Sure he had the grades, but what else could he bring to NU. So this young lady, and the young lady who filed that Supreme Court lawsuit didn’t get into the school of their first choice, but they got in somewhere. Some of us may not have gotten in NU but for Affirmative Action.


  119. Sarah on October 18th, 2012 2:59 pm

    As an Evanston native (and student at Oberlin College), I think it is crucial to contextualize this article’s “dangerously short sided” perspective in Northwestern’s larger geographic community. The city of Evanston struggles with and unfortunately, exemplifies, widespread racial inequality. While I agree with previous commenters who have encouraged Zink to (academically) explore her white privilege, I’d also encourage her, and all of Northwestern, to recognize the deeply established oppressive systems in Evanston. The Evanston School District has a history of structural racism. The school board and faculty are constantly developing ways to lessen racialized and gendered achievement gaps, provide support to historically marginalized students, and in doing so, improve the school system. I am most disturbed because this article demonstrates Zink’s complete disregard of the community around her. I understand that she is new to Evanston, but I fear that her ignorance (and lack of commitment or understanding of an Evanston that exists beyond Davis St.) is more common than Northwestern might like to admit.


    Tamar Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Agreed. I’m also an Evanston native (and a graduate of Mount Holyoke College) and Sarah’s points are very important. I would add that although work is being done on Evanston’s school system, there are ways in which these inequalities are still being perpetuated (let’s examine the racial makeup of honors and AP courses that will launch students into places like Northwestern, shall we?).

    I’m disappointed that the Daily Northwestern even published this article, not because I think this side of the affirmative action debate should be silenced outright, but because this article is woefully inaccurate. This writer clearly has no idea what’s going on around her, either in the local community, on her own campus, or in the country at large. “A more racially segregated past”? “…guilt over a history of which most living today were not even a part”? Racial oppression is not a thing of the past–it’s in the present! We are not in a “post-racial” society. Racism is systemic: it is embedded in our education system, political system, all social institutions. Racism is the root of so many social inequalities, especially when it comes to our opportunities for advancement (or lack thereof). It did not die out with the election of a biracial president, or with any other single historical event; it is alive and still destructive.

    “Who wants his or her entire range of hobbies, skills, talents and ambitions to take a backseat to his or her race, check marks on an application, irreparably skewing admissions officers’ attentions?” Zink obviously has no understanding of how affirmative action works. No one is accepted to college solely based on their race. Race is (at most) one of many factors used in admissions decisions, often only as a final tipping point when deciding between two equally-qualified applicants. Let’s not forget that the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action are…*drum roll*…white women. Affirmative action exists to give slight benefits to historically oppressed groups, but it in no way eclipses the privilege that dominant groups (e.g. white people) still reap.

    In short: this whole article is a disaster. If Zink gains anything from her time at Northwestern, I hope the next three and a half years broaden her perspective considerably on this topic and related issues structural oppression.


  120. Dara on October 18th, 2012 3:15 pm

    Ya know. After graduating from Northwestern in 1996 and returning in 2006 to live I went to the library to get alumni library privileges. I marveled at all of the enhanced technology and everything that had changed. All the librarians excited to assist me, all the electronic reference materials that make research a snap. And I realized while reading this so called column, that this individual is not taking advantage of the resources available to all Northwestern students, and that absolutely no research on this topic could have ever been done that would ever result in this conclusion or point of view. Any person doing the slightest bit of investigation would have no other choice but to conclude that the real Affirmative Action winners have been White Women. Go figure!!!- A 2 second goggle search would have yielded that.


  121. Eric Krupke on October 18th, 2012 4:19 pm

    So many things wrong with this, (including the false merit-race dichotomy) but the thing at the end got me: so women are still being oppressed, but people of color are not? WHAT?


  122. Appropriate Link on October 18th, 2012 4:26 pm



    Damn Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Now that’s a great video.


    Just my opinion Reply:
    October 18th, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    That was really good!


  123. Sasanka on October 18th, 2012 7:10 pm

    “A society that has done something special against the Negro for hundreds of years must now do something special for the Negro.”-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    So much for your thoughts that “affirmative action is no less an ill than the ones Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sought to cure.”


  124. Truth Speaks on October 18th, 2012 9:51 pm

    Seriously? Do some research. The greatest benefactors of affirmative action are actually white women. It is not a race-based policy as opponents would like to portray it. You might be a “victim” of affirmative action yourself. Check your ignorance at home.





  125. Randon on October 18th, 2012 11:18 pm

    The child wrote, “Proponents argue that affirmative action is necessary to make up for centuries of slavery and segregation, in which virtually none of us living today were participants.”

    I must really be old at 53 because I was alive during the Colored Only water fountains & Negroes in the back of the bus era. Does the child realize that Civil Rights Acts were passed in 1964, 1965 & 1968, and that many schools were not desegregated until the early 1970’s?

    People over 50, by one measure, are over 43% of the population – that’s not “virtually none.”

    Journalistically, the article needs much work. There may actually be a point to be made, but first one needs to fully understand the issue. That requires real research and facts.


  126. NU Alum from the 90’s on October 19th, 2012 9:16 am

    As a proud black alumna of Northwestern, this type of article, which is not well written, lacks credible research and facts is truly embarrassing. I would invite Ms Zink to live, just ONE day as a minority in these United States of America. I would guarantee her perspective would change and her emphathy quotient would rise exponentially. I pray your experiences at NU give you some truly real world perspective, expose you people with wildly different experiences than you and prepare you better for the real world. Alumni like myself are depending on it, because this written article, not because it is a viewpoint different than mine, but for it’s lack of academic and factual integrity is not up to the standard of Northwestern. Period.


  127. Required Reading on October 19th, 2012 11:39 am

    How timely: The Reader’s feature article this week is a case study between two high-performing high schoolers–one black from the South Side, and one white from the North Shore. Required reading for Ms. Zink.



  128. Janissia Orgill on October 19th, 2012 12:29 pm

    I guess the Daily now lets anything get published now a days.
    I wonder if she knows that the people who benefit most from affirmative action are white women…and if she has ever considered that maybe she got in due to affirmative action.
    This article reeks of ignorance and bigotry.
    How pathetic.


  129. akibabu on October 22nd, 2012 7:45 pm

    Everyone needs to settle down, I think she gets it now…


  130. Alum on October 23rd, 2012 5:21 pm

    This lecture by a UVA law professor basically debunks all of the assumptions in this column: http://www.law.ua.edu/pubs/lrarticles/Volume%2050/Issue%201/Delgado%20-%20Affirmative%20Action.pdf

    I encountered the lecture in an Asian American Civil Rights class at NU. The school needs to implement a core requirement in social justice or comparative ethnic studies; these topics are equally important as–if not more than–any of the other requirements I was forced to fill during my time there, and provides us with the social sophistication and historical perspective that we need to maintain credibility in conversations with the top legal, philosophical, political and economic scholars of our time.


  131. Hugh on October 24th, 2012 1:00 pm

    You have just convinced me that I need to register with the NU alumni association to help interview incoming students so that the likes of you will hopefully not be offered admission.


  132. KR on October 24th, 2012 2:00 pm

    This is embarrassing for Northwestern. Simply embarrassing.


  133. Disrespectful on October 25th, 2012 4:47 pm

    This is offensive to all minorities in higher education schools. You’re telling them that they are successful because of the color of their skin, not because of the hard work they’ve done over the course of their lives.

    And affirmative action isn’t just for minorities. It’s meant to give people who weren’t born as privileged as others a chance to be successful.


    Actually… Reply:
    October 25th, 2012 at 9:13 pm

    The term “white privilege” is equally disrespectful to all whites in higher education schools. You’re eroding the legitimacy of hardworking caucasian students by tell them they were accepted into an academically prestigious institution because of their skin color, not their work ethic.


    jen Reply:
    October 25th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    fyi that’s called “the race card” and while its existence is undeniable, I don’t think this scenario is totally parallel


  134. Ioana on October 30th, 2012 6:04 pm

    I am a Northwestern Alumni and am appalled at the superficiality of this argument. I believe MLK did want equality but fact is – we are not all equal. People from minority backgrounds need to work harder than white citizens to get where they deserve to be. I believe Abigail Fischer might have been rejected on grounds other than pure race. Maybe white people of her own socio-economic background with lower test scores and GPA knew how to portray themselves better and got in. This type of opinionated writing should not be published by the daily. If discourse is meant to be sparked, then an article should be objective, weighing in pros and cons. I think offending people and implying that people from minority backgrounds did not get in by their own merits dilutes Northwestern’s quality of education.

    Logical reasoning teaches us that if someone sub-par was admitted, he/she will perform at a sub-par level….and if admitted through unfair matters, they will fail to meet the criteria of an university. Now, I believe that most students from minority backgrounds do not fail their classes and go on to become impressive people. Maybe Michelle and Barack Obama would have never made it into college without affirmative action – they both come from underprivileged backgrounds. Fact is, they are now the President and First Lady of the US. Other examples include Judge Sotomayor. How can this problem be brushed under the carpet by the administration.

    I am 100% for affirmative action and I am 100% white.


  135. John Peter Charles al-Dawoud McSquiddums Parker Lloyd Arthur Nose James James Couchandpotato Webster-La’mont’e(urchin)-Fawxy Worcestershirebury, Priest of Cthulu on October 31st, 2012 7:24 pm

    I think that someone should do something about all the problems.