I am currently taking a business ethics class at a local university. The past couple classes we have been having a little role playing mini debate. Let me give you a little background of the debate.
We are taking the role of an admission committee for a medical school. We are choosing from two different students who are on different waiting lists:
- One, a male named Ben, is at the top of the waiting list in the Traditional Pool. The traditional pool mainly looks at quantitative numbers, such as GPA and entry level test scores. Ben received a GPA of 3.8 from
and scored in the top 15% on the entry level tests. Ben grew up in a family that was well-off and he had a lot of opportunities presented to him (he was well taken care of even before birth, put into nice schools, etc). Yale University
- The other applicant is a woman named Bonita. Bonita is in the top of the list of the Diversity Pool. The diversity pool not only looks at the quantitative numbers mentioned above, but also looks at other factors, such as community involvement, life situation, etc. Bonita didn't graduate from high school. Later in life, her employer suggested that she should go to a local university. Bonita went to the university and graduated from with a 3.6 GPA and scored in the top 30% in the entry level tests. Bonita did not grow up in a great family. She was born with a mild case of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. She was not presented with the same opportunities of Ben. She had to drop out of high school to help with her family. She has been involved with and volunteered for many different community activities.
And that’s the basic scenario (if you really want, I could probably get the entire scenario and stick it up here). For two days, we have been debating on this situation and who should be accepted into the medical school.
We got to choose our sides and we are able to switch sides at any point. I chose Ben's side. The point that keeps coming up (from Ben's side) is that he scored higher then Bonita. Plain and simple. Before and after class, I have discussed with Ben's side and this is exactly the reason that everyone on Ben's side is trying to get Ben admitted. He went to a highly esteemed school and got a 3.8. He also scored in the top 15%. Bonita didn't score as high. I can honestly say that I didn't even take race (or any other factors) into consideration, as I'm sure most of Ben's side didn't either.
Towards the end of the debate on day one, we were called racists by one of the people pushing for Bonita. The paper scenario the professor read to us, did not once mention race. The fact that Bonita is a minority, is not a fact, it is just an assumption.
Towards the end of the debate on day two, we were called sexist. A lady in the class asked if the roles were reversed (aka Ben was the less-fortunate who scored lower and Bonita was the well-off who scored higher) would we have chosen the same? Yes we would have. We were looking at the FACT that Ben scored higher (not to mention it was Yale university) than Bonita (who attended a local university). Nothing else. So had Bonita scored higher on both her GPA and entry level tests, I would have been in Bonita’s camp.
Both of these people (the person that called us racist and person that called us sexist) seem to have pretty liberal view points. I don't know if they are liberal or not. But it did get me thinking about liberals. In the case of the debate, they want the underdog to win. There's nothing wrong with that. Having the underdog win is great. It makes for great entertainment. It makes everyone feel motivated that they can accomplish anything. But even though it is great to have the underdog win, in life we have to have some kind of guidelines, rules and benchmarks to live by.
Let's take a couple of movies for example. “Rudy”. Rudy wasn't instantly let into Notre Dame. His grades weren't good enough. So what did Rudy do? He tried harder. He went to a school that he was accepted into and tried to raise he grades. Semester after semester he tried get into Notre Dame and he kept getting rejected. Finally, when his grades were good enough, he was accepted into Notre Dame! He wouldn't have appreciated what he had accomplished nearly as much, if he was just let into the school.
“Pursuit of Happyness”. Chris Gardner came from horrible circumstances. But he wasn't handed the position. He had to fight for it. He had to get the best test scores. Which he did! He turned his life around by his hard work!
These are the best kind of underdog stories. These stories wouldn't have been nearly as good if they didn't accomplish their goals by their own merits and they just had it handed to them. In fact, there probably wouldn't have even been movies or books written about them and their stories.
Here’s another example. Let’s say one of the contestants of the Biggest Loser made it to the Olympics as one of the top competitors in the 100-yard dash. Then on the day of the race, they finished only a few milliseconds behind a contestant that had grown up running (and being in shape) with the goal of making it to the Olympics. We wouldn't give the Biggest Loser the gold medal just because of the journey they had completed. They didn't earn it. But, I would still applaud them for all they had accomplished.
Bottom line, we all want to see people succeed. But we have to live by rules. Rules are what make society possible to live in. And just because we live by rules, doesn't make us bad people. It doesn't make us sexist or racist either.
(And p.s. you can apply this to anything: health care, welfare, immigration, etc.)