Affirmative action is a system that treats school or job applicants differently based on race or ethnicity. That’s called discrimination, and the costs of this kind of discrimination are much higher than any potential benefit.
The unfairness of this system is particularly evident in college admissions. A system in which applicants of different races or ethnicities are judged on different scales means that better-qualified candidates with the “wrong” skin color or ancestry will sometimes be rejected in favor of those with the “right” racial or ethnic credentials.
This inevitably creates resentment and divisions. If students are wondering if their classmates were admitted over more-qualified applicants largely on the basis of their race, that hardly creates a supportive learning environment in which people of different backgrounds can learn from each other.
It also stigmatizes those students who owe their place in the class, at least partly, to their race or ethnicity. Classmates and professors may be forced to wonder if they measure up to their peers. It may even force minority students to question their own abilities: Am I here because I’m African-American or because I’m talented and have something to contribute?
The other crazy thing about affirmative action in college admissions is that some minorities are now favored over others. For example, Hispanic and African-American students are given preference over Asian-Americans.