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Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling will force universities to explore new ways to promote diversity

Washington – The Supreme Court stunned all of higher education with its groundbreaking ruling that nullified affirmative action and forced colleges and universities across the nation to seek new ways to promote student diversity.

Many university leaders said Thursday they were disappointed by what they saw as a blow to diversity. But despite evidence that eliminating this practice often leads to sharp declines in enrollment, there is also optimism that new ways to accommodate more black and Hispanic students will be found. There were many.

President Joe Biden said he disagreed with the decision and called on the Department of Education to consider policies that could help universities build diverse student bodies. He also opposed policies such as the Legacy Preference, which tends to favor wealthy white students.

“We should never allow this country to depart from the dream on which it was founded,” Biden told reporters. “We need a new path forward, a legal path that protects diversity and expands opportunities.”

But evidence from states that have previously outlawed affirmative action shows it’s a tall order.

As an alternative to affirmative action, universities from California to Florida are experimenting with different strategies to achieve the diversity they claim is essential to their campuses. Many give priority to low-income households. Some have even started accepting bright students from all communities across the state.

But years of experimentation, often prompted by bans on race considerations in admissions tests at the state level, have yielded no clear solution. In states requiring race-neutral policies, many colleges have seen declines in black and Hispanic student enrollment, especially at select colleges that have historically been predominantly white. .

Officials at Amherst College estimated that complete racial neutrality would halve the population of blacks, Hispanics and indigenous peoples.

Matthew McGann, director of admissions for the city of Amherst, said earlier this year, “We fully anticipate a significant population decline.”

confront the conservatives The Supreme Court expressed skepticism The university has been preparing for the downsizing from the beginning. Some are considering adding essays to better understand the applicant’s background, and Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling included this strategy.

Chief Justice John Roberts said, “Nothing prevents a college from considering an applicant’s argument about how race has affected the applicant’s life. so long as it is tangibly tied to a character or unique ability that the individual can contribute to the university,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts. Conservative majority of the court.

Other universities planned to step up recruitment in racially diverse areas or to accept more transfer students from racially diverse areas. community college.

court took affirmative action in response to challenges in Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.lower court Admission system supported Both schools denied allegations that the school discriminated against white and Asian-American applicants. But in Supreme Court arguments in late October, all six conservative justices questioned the practice, which has been upheld under Supreme Court rulings dating from 1978 to most recently 2016.

Already banned by nine states affirmative actionstarting in California in 1996 and most recently in Idaho in 2020.

After Michigan voters defeated the bill in 2006, the University of Michigan turned its attention to low-income students.

Graduates were sent to low-income high schools as counselors. Launched college placement offers in Detroit and Grand Rapids. Offered full scholarships to low-income earners in Michigan. Recently, the number of applications for early admission is decreasing, and the number of applications from white students is increasing.

Despite these efforts, the proportion of black and Hispanic undergraduates has not fully recovered from the post-2006 drop. And while Hispanic enrollment has increased, black enrollment continues to decline, from 8% of undergraduates in 2006 to 4% today.

Erica Saunders, director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Michigan, said the campus has more low-income students, but that’s not reflected in racial diversity.

“Socioeconomic status is not a substitute for race,” Sanders said.

At the same time, some of Michigan’s less-selected colleges are doing better. Nearby Eastern Michigan University has seen an increase in the number of students of color, reflecting demographic changes in the state. This shows a chilling effect that experts say is most pronounced in selective colleges. Students of color see less of their peers in places like Ann Arbor and choose campuses that are more welcoming, he said.

Growing up in Ann Arbor, Odia Kaba was expected to attend the University of Michigan. Her application was delayed, so she started at Eastern Michigan University and made plans to transfer to Ann Arbor in her sophomore year.

By then, Kaba was getting daily emails from her sister, who attended UM, describing microaggressions she faced on campus as a black student. Her room fell silent when she entered. Her group projects ignored her. She felt lonely and suffocating.

“Why should I go to M University?” Kaba, 22, remembers thinking. “You end up hanging out with people who don’t look like you, who you can’t relate to, and who you can’t get away from.”

Kaba remained at Eastern Michigan University, graduating this year with a degree in quantitative economics. Although it’s a mostly white campus, Kaba said she found a place with diversity that made her feel comfortable.

“I’m in economics, which is a predominantly white, male field, but when I get out of the classroom and surrounded by people, I feel at ease,” she said.

of University of California Enrollment also declined after it was banned statewide in 1996. Within two years, black and Hispanic enrollments had halved at Berkeley and UCLA, the system’s two most-selected campuses. The system would keep him spending more than $500 million on programs aimed at low-income college students and first-generation college students.

It also launched a program that promises admission to the top 9% of students in every high school in the state in an attempt to reach the brightest students of all backgrounds. Similar promises have been credited with increasing racial diversity in Texas, which opponents of affirmative action cite as a model for success.

In California, the promise drew students from a wider geographic area but did little to expand racial diversity, the system said in its brief to the Supreme Court. Berkeley and UCLA, where students compete with tens of thousands of other applicants, had little impact.

Hispanics now make up 20% of undergraduates at UCLA and Berkeley, higher than in 1996 but lower than the 53% Hispanic share of California high school graduates. On the other hand, black students are less represented than they were in 1996, accounting for 2% of Berkeley’s undergraduate population.

Opponents of affirmative action argue that some states were doing just fine without it. After Oklahoma banned the practice in 2012, the state’s top universities “did not see any significant long-term declines” in minority enrollment, the state’s attorney general told the Supreme Court.

It notes that the recent freshman class at the University of Oklahoma had more Hispanic, Asian and Native American students than in 2012. Although the proportion of black students declined, it was not far from other state’s flagship universities that allow affirmative action. said the state.

Still, many universities expect racial diversity to take a hit. With affirmative action negated, he fears colleges will unwittingly admit fewer students of color. In the long run, it can last. If numbers decline, campuses may become less attractive to future students of color.

Universities say this is a problem because racial diversity benefits campuses as a whole, exposing students to a different worldview and preparing them for a diverse workforce.

Beyond race, the decision has reshaping implications for other admissions policies. Universities may need to scrap policies that favor white students, such as traditional incentives and early entry to standardized test scores, to attract more underserved populations, experts say. It has said.


The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. AP is solely responsible for all content.

Copyright 2023 Associated Press. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

https://www.local10.com/news/politics/2023/06/30/supreme-courts-affirmative-action-ruling-leaves-colleges-looking-for-new-ways-to-promote-diversity/ Supreme Court’s affirmative action ruling will force universities to explore new ways to promote diversity

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