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1.10.07

Guest Blogging And A Question About Affirmative Action

Lynn/Sappho of Noli Irritare Leones has asked me to guest blog at her place for the next few weeks. I'll be cross-posting everything to debitage, but you can click over if you'd rather read my posts on a white background. Here's my first NIL post, minus the self-introduction:

For now, I'll just throw out a question that's been bouncing around in my head for a while. When we talk about affirmative action, the focus is (rightly) usually on the responsibilities of the chooser (the university or employer). But that leaves open the question of what, if anything, is the responsibility of the applicant? The responsibility of an applicant from the underrepresented group is not terribly controversial -- to compete to the best of their ability for one of the openings. A privileged applicant, on the other hand, is in a position to potentially conduct their job or college search differently in order to aid the cause of affirmative action. Is there some way that one can waive one's privilege in how one completes the application? Is there a responsibility to boycott employers or colleges whose affirmative action policies are inadequate? Or should we be compartmentalizing, so that applicant-qua-applicant (as opposed to applicant-qua-voter, for example) has no responsibility for correcting the imbalance in representation of certain social groups? How do we weigh the small benefits that might be obtained from applicant-side affirmative action against the costs of risking unemployment (and of wallowing in privileged person guilt and/or resentment)?

I don't have any answers to these questions, but maybe someone else does.

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