Race as an Area of Social Construct

Introduction

It is known that social sciences approach such areas as race, class, gender, disability, religion or age as social construct areas. There are many social problems in these areas that are supported or addressed by the relevant policies. For example, social welfare policy has been specially developed and implemented by the government to address the problem of poverty in our society (Venema & Drexhage, 2009). However, there are still many problems for which there are no policies, but there is a necessity to address these problems through the effective and comprehensive policy implementation. As a matter of fact, in the 21-st century the problems associated with racial issues and social inequality remain debatable as they were in the 17-th century (Moore, 2005). According to Samuel J. Best and Benjamin Radcliff (2005), “racial differences in public opinion are not limited to evaluations of policies related to race”(p. 639). The issue of race in the context of college and university admissions and dropouts is a serious social problem that requires effective policy implementation. In fact, the issue of race in terms of college and university admissions and dropouts is closely connected with the issue of preferable hiring (Best & Radcliff, 2005). A variety of assessments and studies have been conducted to identify the importance of the problem of race to address the problem and determine and promote the implementation of various interventions to effectively address the problem of race. It becomes clear that the existence of the proper social problem is the key reason for the effective implementation of the policy. The issue of race refers to college and university admissions and dropouts and requires the development and implementation of the proper policy to address this problem at an adequate level.

The major goal of this paper is to expand on race as an area of social construct.  The problem selected for this policy research paper is racial attitudes in college and university admissions and dropouts. To address the problem of race discrimination in college and university admissions and dropouts, it is necessary to identify the policy, discuss historical background of the policy and include the analysis of the policy in terms of the following goals political feasibility, economic feasibility and administrative feasibility.

The problem that necessitated the policy

Today many students face serious challenges applying to a college or university. These challenges may be caused by a variety of factors, including affirmative action in college and university admissions. According to Jamillah Moore (2005), “the vestiges of racial discrimination still exist in almost every aspect of American life, even after the passage of civil rights laws”(p. 1). Many critics state that the issue of race is still widely discussed in American society as an issue of public concern. Race-related challenges can be found in various areas of human life, including health care, employment opportunities, bank loans, housing, social services and business. As a rule, people of color face race discrimination.

It is obvious that education plays a significant role in the life of many young people, providing massive opportunities for personal development. Undauntedly, many students in the United States have to compete to gain college and university admissions and do everything possible to avoid dropouts. Today there are many situations that demonstrate the existence of racial discrimination “both in and outside of the classroom”, leading to negative consequences, such as “social isolation, alienation, institutional abandonment, lack of congruency between the institution and the student, the interpersonal relationships with faculty, peers and academic staff all contribute to the unfavorable experiences by students of color at predominantly white institutions” (Simberg, 2006, p. 48). As a rule, the problems students face in colleges and universities are connected with poor academic performance and lack of motivation. According to recent research, these problems lead to college and university dropouts as students have no opportunity to adjust to college/or university life, which requires the development of new skills and abilities. Based on the statistical data, “students of color attending two year colleges drop out of college more often than any other student group”(Simberg, 2006, p. 48). Another source of information reports that “Asian, Latino and Native American students reported lower level of satisfaction partly due to the greater prevalence of alienation discrimination and invisibility they experience compared to their White counterparts” (Cole et al., 2007, p. 44). Taking into consideration the above mentioned facts, there is a demand for government action.

The historical background of the policy

To address the issue of race discrimination in terms of college and university admissions and dropouts, it is necessary to refer to some important historical documents that can be used to propose a policy to address the problem. In 1964, the US government and the US Supreme Court passed Civil Rights Act, which presented two significant provisions. Title VI is aimed to “prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by the recipients of federal funds,” while Title VII prohibits discrimination by employers (both public and private) on the basis of race, age, color, national origin and sex (qtd. in Frank Kemerer et al., 2009, p. 411).  Both provisions are of great importance as they guarantee social equality in all areas of human activity and interaction.

In addition, historically, the policies that are associated with the concept of race have been referred to the category of regulating human behavior, providing the so-called racialized consciousness and legitimating thoughts, actions and behaviors about race. Many race-based polices have been established in the United States to promote the legacy of racialization and determine a variety of forms of racial discrimination. Initially, in the United States, the Supreme Court adopted education policy, which challenged racial segregation in schools.  In 1935, Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall spoke as the first initiators of race-based policy. Thus, “the Supreme Court decided in favor of Lloyd Gaines, a Black student who had been refused admission to the University of Missouri Law School in 1938” (Weninger, 2012, p. 18). This case established a precedent for other states to make attempts to “equalize” black school facilities and avoid integration. Although the race-based affirmative action policy was adopted, there were still many challenges faced American students, including “the violation of the American system of meritocracy by giving race consideration in the admissions system,” the idea that race-based affirmative action policies prejudice the interests of white students, violating equal rights opportunities (Weninger, 2012, p. 18). In addition, there was a belief that the affirmative action policy causes negative effect on students’ achievements, reducing the quality of instruction at the proper academic level.  Moreover, many critics claimed that “black students were privileged economically over other white students” (Weninger, 2012, p. 18).

The policy: an overview

It is necessary to develop a policy which would address racial issues in the context of college and university admissions and dropouts. The recommended policy may be called “affirmative action”. According to Jamillah Moore (2005), “affirmative action is a policy designed to redress the vestiges of discrimination and exclusion”(p. 1). This policy should not be focused only on the action against whites, although racial issues regarding prejudices, stereotypes and discrimination are associated with the dominant group of the American society. According to researchers, “affirmative action attempts to redress inequalities providing opportunities and access for underrepresented groups who more often than not are non-white”( Moore, 2005, p. 1). The policy should be aimed at providing equal opportunities in college and university admission and dropouts.

In fact, policy proposals should be formulated by different groups: governmental officials and interest groups. The major goal of the policy is to achieve maximum social support and gain, providing students of different backgrounds equal opportunities in admission and dropout practices. Actually, the policy will help American citizens to guide their everyday activities, ensuring “economic, social and environmental well-being” (Venema & Drextage, 2009, p. 1). The key policy instruments include:

  • Regulatory instruments (establishing the laws and regulations to enhance race-based policy regarding college and university admissions and dropouts);
  • Economic instruments (providing subsidiaries aimed at control over the compliance with the laws);
  • Expenditure instruments (providing research and development projects and programs aimed at equal opportunities of students in colleges and universities regarding admission and dropout procedures);
  • Institutional instruments (developing specific sector strategies to improve the work of admission committees and the committees responsible for dropout decisions ) (Venema & Drextage, 2009, p. 13).

The design and implementation of the recommended policy should be controlled by the US Department of Education. The proper penalties for college and university staff members who are engaged in admission and dropout practices and violate the established laws should be clearly defined (Venema & Drexhage, 2009).

The analysis of the policy in terms of the following goals: political feasibility, economic feasibility and administrative feasibility

In order to analyze the effectiveness of the recommended policy, it is necessary to refer to the analysis of the following goals: political feasibility, economic feasibility and administrative feasibility. According to Richard Hoefer and Roy Dulak (2013), “social policy analysis and development most often begins with the problem that the policy is created to address” (p. 9). Actually, the policy is feasible and can be used as self-financed policy. Evaluation of the recommended policy in terms of its feasibility includes political feasibility, economic feasibility and administrative feasibility, providing effective policy analysis. This analysis involves the impacts of the recommended policy on various aspects.

Political feasibility

Political feasibility can be defined as “the extent to which officials and policymakers are willing to accept and support a particular piece of public policy” (Calavera, 2008, para.1). The policy regarding college and university admissions and dropouts should be signed to laws because its proposals are effective and feasible. The consequences of the policy will have a strong impact on the quality of education and the increased rate of skilled and experienced labor force. Political feasibility of the policy can be supported by the principle of democracy established in the United States.

Economic feasibility

The policy implementation is worth the cost and time investment because the more equal opportunities will be provided to American students, the better economic situation will be established in the United States.

Administrative feasibility

The policy regarding race-based issues in college and university admissions and dropouts is properly developed to carry out the key administrative tasks, including the proper organizing and monitoring practices, billing, personnel management, planning and regular overseeing procedures. The recommended policy is feasible on administrative grounds.

Conclusion

Thus, it is necessary to conclude that race is one of the most significant issues in our society that affects practically all aspects of human life.  Therefore, race-based policies should be adopted and implemented in all spheres of human activity, including education. Admissions and dropouts in colleges and universities should not reflect racial discrimination, stereotypes and prejudices. The new policy should concern the challenges students face in educational institutions, improving treatment of people of non-European descent, but never discriminating against students of European decent. The policy should be effectively adopted to function under dynamic and uncertain conditions without any risk of violating its intended purpose. The policy should serve the public good because education is crucial for our society, providing knowledgable and experienced labor force and improving our country’s economy. The analysis of the recommended policy in terms of its feasibility demonstrates its effectiveness regarding desired outcomes and the effectiveness of policy implementation.

 

References

Best, S. J. & Radcliff, B. (2005). Polling America: P – Z. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Calavera, M. (2008). The Importance of Political Feasibility to the Policy Process.Yahoo Voices. Dec. 15, 2008. Retrieved from:< http://voices.yahoo.com/the-importance-political-feasibility-policy-2313680.html?cat=37>

Cole, D. G., Orsuwan, M. & Sam A. A. (2007). “Violence and hate crimes on campus” in Creating and Maintaining Safe College Campuses: A Sourcebook for Evaluating and Enhancing Safety Programs, ed. by Jerlando F. L. Jackson and Melvin C. Terrell. Stylus Publishing, LLC.

Hoefer, R. & Dulak, R. E. (2013). New Horizons for Policy Practice. Routledge.             Kemerer, F., Sansom, P. & Sansom, P. A. (2009).California School Law: Second Edition. Stanford University Press.

Moore, J. (2005).Race and College Admissions: A Case for Affirmative Action. McFarland.

Simberg, K. E. (2006).Social Adjustment of Students of Color Attending Predominantly White Community Colleges. ProQuest.

Venema, H. D. & Drexhage, J. (2009). “The need for adaptive policies” in Creating Adaptive Policies: A Guide for Policymaking in an Uncertain World, ed. by Darren Swanson and Suruchi Bhadwal. IDRC.

Weninger, P. E. (2012). “Creating Inclusive Institutions: Race-Based Affirmative Action Policies in Higher Education in the United States and Brazil,” The University of Texas at Austin. Report. May 2012. Retrieved from:<http://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/ETD-UT-2012-05-5403/WENINGER-MASTERS-REPORT.pdf?sequence=1>

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