The earthy-toned fall foliage is finally here, and while for many, this indicates the approach of the holiday festivities, for most high school seniors, this time period implies navigating the hectic world of college admissions. Whether it is prestige, location, or campus size the driving factor of a student’s college list, it is undeniable that this period marks a journey of self-reflection for many, as seniors ponder on the daunting yet exciting question: “Where do I want to spend the next four years?”
The recent Supreme court case on affirmative action might have drastic implications on this matter. This November, the United States Supreme Court revisited the question of race-conscious admissions through two cases involving Harvard College and the University of North Carolina. The anti-affirmative action organization Students for Fair Admissions sued Harvard College in 2014, claiming that the college’s admissions process discriminates against Asian American applicants. Two lower courts ruled the lawsuit in favor of Harvard a few years later.
Now, the question of affirmative action has resurfaced before the Supreme Court, which will have to decide whether this policy violates the Fourteenth Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, which protects citizens from discrimination under the law or through government action based on race, gender, or ethnicity. Experts believe that because a conservative majority makes up the court, decades of precedent allowing schools to consider race as a factor in the admissions process will most likely be overturned. If this is the case, the movement for inclusion and diversity in American colleges will face drastic drawbacks.
To further analyze the potential implications of the court’s decision, it is important to delve on the origins of affirmative action, which dates back to the 1960s under President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration. This policy intended to advocate for equal job opportunities for African Americans during the Civil Right movement. Throughout the years, affirmative action was broadened to protect women, Native Americans, Latins, Asian Americans, and other minority groups. It was also extended into the admission offices of higher education institutions across the country.
However, as the implementation of affirmative action grew, so did its opposition, as many cases against this policy grew using the argument of “reverse discrimination.” This side of the affirmative action debate believes that race-conscious admissions grant “special privileges” to non-white applicants and discourage them from performing to their maximum ability, as they know admissions officers are likely to settle for mediocre academic performances, which many argue is in turn, racist. Therefore, many opposers of affirmative action tend to believe that many students of color admitted to prestigious schools do not reach the necessary merit to be admitted.
”"...it is important to acknowledge the dignity and bravery of those taking a stance on this issue and more importantly, those who will be negatively impacted by it."
On the other hand, supporters of affirmative action argue that concerted efforts are required to ensure diversity and inclusion in institutions of higher education. It is the duty of policymakers to guarantee that students of all identities are welcomed in the grounds that will polish the next generation of leaders within the United States and around the globe. It is equally important to ensure that students receiving a higher education are being educated on the experiences of students from all backgrounds and cultures to promote a sense of open-mindedness, tolerance, and empathy in the formative years of the youth, in turn creating opportunities for dignity to lead major decisions anywhere and everywhere.
Despite what the outcome of the Supreme Court’s decision is, it is important to acknowledge the dignity and bravery of those taking a stance on this issue and more importantly, those who will be negatively impacted by it. From now on, we can solely hope that the Supreme Court justices are enlightened by their responsibility to advocate for a country where diversity is value and inclusion matters.