Supreme Court revisits affirmative action on college campuses

Published by Matthew Glover, Date: November 18, 2022
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After hearing arguments on Oct. 31 for five hours, the Supreme Court will decide next summer if affirmative action aligns with the original intent of the 14th Amendment.

Affirmative action allows colleges and universities to consider race as one of many factors when granting admission. Supporters argue that removing it conflicts with an institution’s ability to select a diverse, holistic student body, and affirmative action helps diminish stereotypes and promotes integration on campuses.

With the Supreme Court now leaning conservative 6-3, and a Pew Research Center poll released in April citing that 74% of Americans think race and ethnicity should not be considered in admissions, many are worried for the future of affirmative action.

The cases currently being considered are Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Both cases target these institutions because of their extremely selective admissions processes.

Schools like Slippery Rock University would likely not be affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold or strike down affirmative action.

“Although faculty and coaches are not typically involved in admissions decisions, in general, APSCUF supports efforts to increase the diversity of the student body,” said SRU-APSCUF President Jason Hilton and SRU-APSCUF Social Justice Committee co-chairs Emily Keener and Natalie Drozda.

However, SRU-APSCUF is involved in Honors College admissions and designed an admissions process to create equal opportunities for students of all backgrounds.

Many faculty involved with SRU-APSCUF have also sought additional inclusivity training like The Associate of College and University Educators (ACUE) training and DEIB course certification.

The Supreme Court has previously ruled in favor of affirmative action. In Fisher v. University of Texas in 2016, they said diversity on college campuses is a “compelling governmental interest.”

Affirmative action supporters also worry that striking it down would cause a significant drop in the number of students of color admitted to selective universities. Lower courts have found this to be true after other schools tried to implement alternatives.

They also argue that striking affirmative action down would lower employer’s ability to promote diversity in the workforce.

The Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) are led by activist Edward Blum who has been denied by the Supreme Court twice before when fighting race-conscious admissions.

Their lawsuit against Harvard claims that Harvard discriminates against Asian Americans and compares their numbers to the Jewish quotas Harvard, Yale and Princeton held from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Asian Americans on average have better standardized test scores and grades than students from any other background, but According to Harvard admissions, Asian Americans constitute only 27.9% of the student body.

SFFA also argues that the 14th Amendment promotes colorblindness and cites Brown v. Board of Education which ruled racial segregation in schools unconstitutional. However, Harvard co-counsel William Lee argues that Brown targeted the exclusion of races, not inclusion and diversity.

Colleges and universities are defending affirmative action citing laws made after the Civil War that gave special benefits to Black Americans across many areas.

According to NPR, many three- and four-star generals attested to needing racial diversity within military ranks.

They claim that the lack of racial diversity during the Vietnam War contributed to tensions and violence between a largely white officer corps and the largely black and Hispanic enlisted men which sometimes compromised the war effort.

The Supreme Court will not decide the fate of affirmative action until next summer.

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