Editorial Notebook

Importance of distributing equity instead of equality

The other day, I had a strange realization after class.

My professor had been trying to further explain the accounting cycle by using relatable examples. I don’t remember the exact point he was trying to make, yet in the middle of his example, he referred to his students as having equal opportunity because we had decided to come to college to better our assets—assets, in this case, referring to our education. A classmate of mine quickly raised his hand, stating that he did not truly believe that, because not everyone has, or will have, the same opportunities as their peers. This statement brought about an intriguing concept: equality versus equity.

Personally, I know I am very lucky to have grown up in the family and area I did. Due to the life I was born into, I have been given certain opportunities that may not be as accessible to other people—people who could be just as hardworking and experienced as me. Thus establishing the problem of equality vs. equity­­—presenting people with the same opportunity is not exactly equality, because those individuals do not start off on the same level playing field. Therefore, equity, not equality, should be distributed. 

Recently, I’ve also been noticing this problem more and more, as discussions about The Arch increase. Since I am a sophomore, I am required by the school to take summer classes, which would give me a free semester in my junior year to do a co-op, internship, or study abroad. Though Rensselaer may try to give us a career-driven opportunity, this process doesn’t take into account the high volume of applicants looking for one of those experiences to better their future. Unfortunately, those lacking a network—the community necessary to create ties and relationships to ensure success in that industry—will be starting at a disadvantage once they join the workforce.

There are absolutely more pressing examples of groups that may need equitable actions to be taken. However, this specific one surprised me, putting into perspective just how lucky I am to be in my current position.