By Ivan Kipp
A new bill presented at the Austin YMCA Texas Youth & Government District Assembly seeks to render all practices and policies of Affirmative Action illegal in the United States, and replace these practices based on race with socio-economic status. The bill was passed in a unanimous vote.
This bill was presented by LASA High School Delegate Avik Ahuja, who is enrolled as a junior.
Ahuja’s bill has called for declaring the use of affirmative action policies in the employment process and university admissions to be illegal.
Currently, eight states have already banned Affirmative Action practices, which includes Oklahoma, California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, and Florida. This bill will extend the ban to all 42 other states who still have Affirmative Action policies.
According to the Cornell Law School, Affirmative Action is “a set of procedures designed to eliminate unlawful discrimination among applicants, remedy the results of such prior discrimination, and prevent such discrimination in the future”. This practice was implemented during LBJ’s presidency with the purpose to encourage minorities in enrolling in college and jobs that were predominantly held by white populations. Ahuja found that while the historical origins were necessary for the time, these practices now only take race into consideration and are devoid of qualification, individual achievement or character, he said.
Delegate Ahuja says that Affirmative Action is “a form of legalized discrimination” under the basis of race, and believes we should implement socio-economic factors in its place. Ahuja also quoted the late Reverend Martin Luther King in support of his bill that we should “live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character”. Ahuja further elaborates that he believes “in a color-blind admission process” and that the debate over Affirmative Action should end.
Amendment Author Delegate Augustus Brown says that “I do not believe that Affirmative Action is the way to go for deciding who receives grants or scholarships”, and was “wary of it at first”, but believes that this bill “will be a benefit to the State of Texas”. Delegate Brown continues the implied purpose of Delegate Ahuja’s bill with his amendment to replace Affirmative Action with policies to aid those with a socio-economic disadvantage rather than race. Delegate Brown says that basing these replacement policies on socio-economic status will “promote those who lack resource” rather than just their race.
A delegate in favor of the bill said that “this helps promote diversity through background and socio-economic status” and still helps those minorities who are lower class, “which also aids the original purpose” of Affirmative Action.