One Viral Tweet Nails The Entire Problem With How People View Affirmative Action

August 2nd 2017

Mike Rothschild

On Tuesday, the New York Times revealed that the Trump administration was preparing to use U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) resources to investigate and possibly sue universities over affirmative action policies.

But in a twist, the DOJ will be looking to go after schools that have allegedly discriminated against white applicants.

In light of this report, Ashley C. Ford, a features writer at Refinery 29, decided to bring up the long-held notion that affirmative action essentially means unqualified black college students can go to any school for free.

The Times obtained an internal document asking for lawyers to work on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions." A troubling aspect of the project is that it will be run from the DOJ's main office, which is staffed by Trump appointees, rather than the apolitical Educational Opportunities Section.

While the DOJ wouldn't confirm the Times' reporting, supporters of the initiative said it was a long overdue review of race-based admissions policies that hurt other minorities, particularly Asian-Americans. Detractors, on the other hand, called a potential review of college admissions standards to benefits whites unnecessary, chilling to diversity, and "the natural culmination of white conservative America’s growing sense of aggrievement and Fox News–fueled belief that they are somehow the victims of reverse racism," as Elliot Hannon wrote for Slate.

According to the story Ford told in a series of tweets, she was working between her senior year of high school and freshman year of college, and spoke to multiple people who assumed that she'd attend college for no charge, simply by virtue of being black.

Ford went on to talk about how the statements weren't hostile or accusatory, but simply told to her by white counterparts as facts.

Here's the thing, according to Ford, these people truly believed that affirmative action somehow translated to free college based on things they heard from other people who also believed it.

Beyond the fact that this simply isn't true, statistics bear out that going to college for free is incredibly rare, no matter a person's race.

According to a CBS Money report from 2011, just 20,000 students nationwide received full-ride scholarships that paid for their entire tuition. And this number shrinks to just 250 when dealing with private colleges, where tuition is often much more expensive. Even full-ride athletic scholarships are comparatively rare, with just six sports offering them, with others only giving out small amounts of money.

The vast majority of scholarship amounts are small. According to numbers from the National Center for Educational Statistics, the average amount of grant and scholarship money for a student attending a public four-year college was $6,270 for the 2010-2011 school year. Even an in-state resident at a public college will be paying nearly $10,000 per year, meaning whatever scholarship money they get won't cover everything. And aid numbers go down sharply for higher income levels, while tuition spikes for out-of-state residents or private colleges.

With student debt exploding to the tune of $30,000 on average for a graduating college senior, it's clear that virtually nobody is going to college "for free."

If the Justice Department's increasing focus on white grievance leads to minority students being offered less scholarship money that problem will get even worse. In fact, the amount of misinformation she was dealing with, along with the fear that college is about to get even more expensive for black students led Ford to send out one more tweet:

If you're wondering, the response to that tweet was enormous.