November 8, 2013
from page 1 >> Affirmative Action
OPINIONS >> 7
Class More Worthy Factor than Race in Affirmative Action By Arya Sureshbabu Were they to rely on purely objective criteria, these officials would be charged with dehumanizing students and turning every adolescent into nothing more than a set of figures without any concern for the potential environmental factors which had influenced their GPAs and SAT scores. If they implemented affirmative action based on race or gender, they would be instantaneously reviled as proponents of discrimination who attempt to mask their horrendous bigotry behind the need for “equality”. These criticisms are not without merit—relying on numbers alone does not provide a full picture of a student’s
achievements, while allowing someone a leg up in university admissions because of the color of his or her skin reeks of reverse racism. How then, do we find a middle ground? The closest thing we have to a legitimate answer lies in a relatively new proposition: affirmative action based on socioeconomic class. Nobody can deny that a person’s financial background has significant bearing upon the opportunities that are readily available to him or her. Students in affluent societies grow up with tutors, prep books, and a plethora of educational materials, receiving assistance in building up
their resume almost from the very moment they set foot on a school campus. In contrast, students born into impoverished families often lack the means to get by on a day to day basis, let alone purchase vocabulary flashcards or hire personal tutors to boost their SAT score. Naturally, the vastly disparate daily lives of these two groups would result in lower test scores and grades for those who lack the monetary means to obtain extra assistance in their educational pursuits. Affirmative action based on socioeconomic class would essentially eliminate the damaging effects of this dichotomy by giving special
preference to applicants who have performed reasonably well in spite of economic hardship, giving them the opportunity to secure a well-paying job and break out of the malicious cycle of poverty. What is more, the notion of offering affirmative action based on class placates the protestors of the current system who reside on both sides of the spectrum. A Century Foundation report recently revealed that economic class is seven times more influential in determining test scores than race is. In the face of this evidence, both sides would have to agree that allowing affirmative action based on so-
cial class would both eliminate the specter of reverse racism and promote a more holistic view of applications by taking environmental influences into consideration. The college admissions process will never be perfect. There will always be a student or two in every classroom across the United States who is bitterly disappointed or feels cheated out of his or her future upon receiving rejection letters in the spring. But perhaps introducing socioeconomic class as a criterion worth considering would be a step in the right direction by placing the rich and the poor on a more level playing field.
While the intentions may be good, I have to question the logic behind the activities. Character issues won’t be solved within a twenty-minute discussion. If students really have character problems, they should feel comfortably consulting a teacher, counselor, or other adult. One-on-one help would be far more effective. In a group environment, students are pushed to solve these problems alone, since opening up a character flaw can be awkward and embarrassing. With regard to community building, Friday activities do very little for inter-grade
interaction. Teachers often lead discussions, which results in students listening rather than actually talking. Thus, students don’t often interact outside of their grade level during Friday Activities. There are far better ways to achieve this type of interaction. Clubs, for instance, give students a way to meet and talk with people outside of their grade level. Students don’t suddenly start interacting outside of their age group when given a twenty-minute discussion; the Friday Activities clearly fail at this purpose. Friday activities ul-
timately serve a placebo effect—they convince people that students have the opportunity to come forth with nonacademic problems. Although several other schools have periods mirroring advisory— Mission, for example, has the Read Period—none have activities meant for such purposes. This isn’t because of a lack of originality; it’s because the Friday Activities serve no valid purpose at Irvington.
of that society understand and comprehend the ideas behind the cultures of all other members. Unfortunately, this type of ideal situation does not occur often in the real world. If anything can be gleaned from Robert Owen’s utopia of New Lanarck, it is that ideal societies, too, will degrade into chaos and anarchy. The reason for this is similar to that of just about anything in the world—nothing lasts forever. Admittedly, I would love to believe that Irvington is one of these perfect societies, but in reality, Irvington is just another model of how the world is intrinsically tainted and imperfect. At the end of the day, however, I question the stereotype that diversity is good for a
community. Taking a look at Irvington right now, I don’t feel that the lack of cultural understanding impedes the ability of students to perform. Rather, it has become a sort of unique jargon, melding with our daily language as if it has always been there. After a while, we begin to not notice those moments when someone unintentionally insults another culture and treat it as assort of background noise. Coming from another perspective, cultural understanding does not have much of an impact on our daily lives. Sure, learning about the beliefs of others is all fine and dandy, but when are we ever going to use this information again? In addition, having a
society that is culturally diverse may even be harmful. As you learn about the various beliefs and customs of races and ethnic groups besides your own, you may begin to question your own beliefs, especially those that concern spiritual ideals. Changing the moral ideals that your ancestors passed down to you probably isn’t the best way to preserve their memory and work. After a few generations of questioning and switching beliefs, you will no longer be able to say that you are, for example, Catholic. You’ll probably be part Catholic, part Buddhist, and part Muslim. Therefore, many an arguments will occur with the other part Catholic, part Buddhist, and part Muslim people you meet on the
origin of these ideas. Causing the world to become a cultural mess where you can’t tell Buddhism from Christianity and Chinese traditions from South African traditions probably isn’t the best way to preserve the memory of those that founded these traditions and religions. At the end of the day, perhaps cultural diversity is not the direction we want to take as it does not seem to pose a real problem upon our school and our society and may even degrade the understanding of various cultures and races that we have right now. Instead, we should strive to respect other cultures and try to remove the cultural insults from our vernacular.
Stephen Chbosky paints this tranquil story of a wallflower, Charlie, through Charlie’s personal letters. There are some really beautiful thoughts created in his mind as he observes mundane human nature from afar—whether it be from a corner at a teenage party or in a musty school hallway, he looks through life from a unique perspective and sees what everyday people cannot. That’s what I mean. While the word “wallflower” is sometimes mistakenly considered synonymous with “outcast” or “loner,” I prefer “self-observer.” A wallflower is simply a person who prefers the company of thoughts and prefers to fade into the back-
ground, surveying the surroundings. There are perks to standing on the sidelines, like self-discovery and relaxation, and it’s as much a way of life as traversing the town with crowds of friends. When I’m alone, I exist in a bubble and depart from reality. I float above my environment, examining what’s happening below in a sort of peaceful out-of-body experience, and dissect the laughter, the chatter, and the shouting that my brain filters. A school courtyard, once drab and overcrowded, transforms into a vivid place teaming with new life. And some of my clearest revelations come from late nights
lying in bed, like this one: being alone is a gift. While I’m alone in my room, my heart doesn’t ache for other people’s company. I choose to unwind from the dynamic day by letting the silence engulf and soothe my tinkering mind. The alone time is a valuable hidden gem of the competitive, bustling world every human being needs at one time or another to learn to live with themselves. As a result, these shy folk have a clear sense of their own beliefs. They spend so much time with themselves that they have the time to culminate their own thoughts and explore their unconscious, diving into the
depths and doing some much needed soul searching. Contrary to popular belief, wallflowers don’t miss out on the high school experience. Wallflowers don’t make it a point to avoid company-they choose solitude, not isolation. They simply understand that they can retreat from the world without fear of being abandoned by the world. Not only do they grasp the nuances of life easily, but they also possess that uncanny ability to live vicariously through another person’s eyes…at the very heart of it, a wallflower is a quietly cultivated plant sitting on the windowsill, observing day and night.
Friday Activities are Utterly Pointless Advisory Activities Fail at Intended Purposes
By Rohit Dilip On many Fridays throughout the school year, advisory classes are required to participate in “Friday Activities.” These activities were designed to help students across grade levels assimilate and get to know one another, promote better decisions, and overall address several nonacademic issues students had. These activities, however, fail miserably at addressing these areas. Although it’s immediately obvious that students often need help from a non-academic standpoint, a weekly group activity is possi-
bly the worst way to go about aiding students. The rationale behind the activities, as Irvington principal Ms. Smoot explained, is that “the Friday activities would be community building opportunities to give students across the grade level chances to talk with each other. That’s evolved to address awareness about global issues and lesson planning to prepare for safety. Last year and this year we’ve worked on the character issues like cheating and plagiarism. It’s an opportunity for instruction that’s not taking time out of the core academic classes.”
Diversity: Its True Meaning IHS lacks true diversity, but does it really matter? By Matthew Chan According to greatschools.org (yes, Irvington is a great school), in the 20102011 school year, Irvington was 60% Asian, 21% White, 13% Hispanic, and 3% black. We can no longer deny the fact that Irvington’s population is heavily skewed regardless of how we crunch the numbers. As I make my way around campus every day, I can’t help but notice that although different ethnic groups mingle and mix, there is a general failure to understand the many cultures that exist in Irvington’s student population. We like to say we are diverse, but I feel that this lack of understanding directly inhibits our school from being so. True diversity in a society exists when all members
The Art of Solitude There are perks to being a wallflower By Iris Lee
I wouldn’t underestimate the quiet folk. For some, it’s thrilling to be around other people and feed off their effervescence. For others, it’s a little harder, and not just because they might be socially awkward. There are some people that just like to be alone at times. In that reflective novel Perks of Being a Wallflower,