March 24, 2023
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ColumnsThe 'U' in Education

Court ruling has unequal results

The Census Bureau estimates that people of minority status will be the majority of the American population by 2043. Within the next two decades, minority applicants to college will also become the majority. With constant debate over affirmative action, the future of these students and the policy come into question.

On April 22, the Supreme Court supported the state of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action. In the case, Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the coalition argued Michigan’s ban prevented racial groups from advocating for their constituents in university admissions. The Supreme Court ruled against this, claiming the federal government cannot set aside laws that Michigan citizens have voted on. The statewide measure, known as Proposal 2, passed with a 58 percent majority, making Michigan the third state to pass a law of its kind.

According to an NPR broadcast, by admitting students through affirmative action, some minority students with allegedly less rigorous academic records will be accepted. As a result, these students may then end up at the bottom of their class.

Some of these same critics of affirmative action further argue that with an increasing minority population, affirmative action may not be necessary. If the Census Bureau is correct, colleges and universities will see a sharp increase in college-age minority students submitting applications by 2043, especially because 49.9 percent of the minority population is five years old or younger.

And a ban on affirmative action has had an opposite effect in California. The Golden State banned race-based college decisions in 1997. Rather than seeing a decrease in minority enrollment, seven out of the nine University of California campuses have an Asian majority, according to College Board. These trends in minority enrollment indicate the ban may not affect college decisions for minority students.

But banning affirmative action in Michigan and in other states can eliminate many students’ ability to attend college. The New York Times reported that colleges and universities in states with the ban in place have seen fewer African-American and Hispanic students enroll. By eliminating the policy, colleges and universities may be closing doors for many qualified candidates.

Affirmative action can be exploitative if used improperly. But if colleges and universities use race as one factor out of many, good students, regardless of their race, will be admitted.