College Admission Quotas: Socio-Economic or Racial?

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Yesterday at lunch, we started having a discussion on college admission processes, the difference between the U.S. & Brazil, admissions quotas, etc. This was mainly because Sunday was the "Fuvest," which is like Brazilian (at least for two major universities that use Fuvest as their exam - USP & Barro Branco Military Academy) SAT day, but even more hard core because the exam taken in Brazil, the vestibular (this past weekend was the first round of the Fuvest), decides 100% whether or not you are accepted into a college or not. Or is it?

One of the reasons we discussed admissions quotas is because there's been recent debate here concerning racial quotas for admissions into Brazilian universities which was actually featured in Sunday's Folha, including public universities - which, for the most part, are considered far superior than many private schools. This poses a few problems:

1. A little over half the population finds this to be humiliating for (mainly) black students.
2. It is unconstitutional - the Brazilian constitution says that access to institutions of higher education are to be solely based on merit.
3. Socio-economic quotas - The age old story of, "So what if she's black? She has money and studied at the best private schools her entire life - her race shouldn't give her yet another hand up in making it to a top university!" - which is very similar to the Legacy student debate.

Ok, ok, so as a product of a "multicultural" and "financial need" scholarship (which came after being admitted!), I am either the best or worst person to comment on this. So much that I constantly tell my brother, who is applying to start college in the Fall of 2009 to look up "brown people" scholarships since my parents can't afford to pay for his education at the rates colleges in the U.S. are at these days (Like how I act like I didn't graduate last year...)!

The Folha article states that at least "82 public universities have adopted some sort of affirmative action criteria via the vestibular, whether it be through quotas or added bonus because of [the student's] skin color, income, or type of high school attended [public v. private].

My opinion on the matter is that the latter two affirmative action criteria are beneficial, and in the case of skin color, not so much - especially here in Brazil - a country with so much racial mixing I don't think it's even feasible. I do think, however, that students need an extra hand when it comes to family income. This is because here in Brazil, private schools (we're talking secondary schools now) are usually much better than public schools - especially in São Paulo - and after graduating from high school, people who can afford it usually take extra classes just to help them pass the vestibular. I mean, one positive thing many schools in the United States are doing is not requiring SAT scores (PC plug) and this is one of the biggest reasons, am I right?

The fact of the matter is, unfortunately, that if income quotas or regarding types of seconday schooling are set in place, a majority of the students will be of African descent, so why emphasize skin color just to make our friends in the north who think they have all the answers to racism resolved think we're following their lovely example? Brazil is supposed to be (note italics!) a racial democracy which is screwed up enough as it is - must we worsen things?

What do you think? Should Brazil have racial quotas for college admissions? Quotas at all? Work with me here...

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