“The Breakdown” by Lauren Winston
Divided by ideological lines, three judges appointed by Donald Trump alongside three additional conservative judges currently make up the six out of nine supermajority in the Supreme Court.
In a 6-2 Supreme Court decision on the Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College (and a 6-3 decision on the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill case), colleges may no longer consider race systemically in the admissions process––directly to the detriment of Black and Latine students.
Higher education institutions are now unable to use race alone as one of the many factors that influence admission into a degree program. This decision further complicates the discussions surrounding an applicant’s race and harms efforts aimed at increasing the presence of Black and Latine students attending university. In some states where this practice has already been implemented, such as in California, the enrollment of Black and Hispanic students at Berkeley and UCLA dropped 40% after removing race as a factor in admissions. Throughout 25 years of navigating the use of race-neutral policies in the admissions process, there is still a lack of Black and Latine students at these internationally recognized schools.
The Supreme Court’s majority opinion does not see race as a necessary factor to consider in the admissions process, therefore race-based affirmative action has been deemed unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. This ruling disrupts admissions processes that have been used to acknowledge racial discrimination as a barrier to education since the 1960s.
Although this practice known as race-based affirmative action has been challenged multiple times since its establishment it has been permitted as a practice in academia until now. Now, race can only be considered in the context of a student choosing to explain how race has impacted their lived experiences.
The Irony of Affirmative Action “Justice”
If the loss of privilege wasn’t a concern, and fairness is a primary concern, then legacy admissions should be seen as unfair not race-based affirmative action. Legacy admissions is preferential treatment. At some universities legacy students make up 4%-23% of the freshman class or even outnumber the amount of Black students. At Harvard, 70% of donor-related and legacy applicants are white, and being a legacy student makes an applicant about six times more likely to be admitted. This is privilege correlated to race and socioeconomic status.
It should also be noted that this ruling does not remove race as a factor for consideration in the use of some military programs and education. This exception provides insight into how the presence of BIPOC people is most valued when their time and energy is committed and can be controlled by the State.
Moving Forward with This
Future practices for admissions procedures will now have to determine how to create race-neutral methods for creating racially diverse classes and find more ways for students to share their lived experiences. This process of trial and error is expected to harm Black and Latine students and applicants causing them to unjustly face systemic racial discrimination. Further implications of this ruling are expected to negatively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts in the workplace, change national discussions surrounding how race is viewed, and impact institutional cultures.
The best way for us to address deeply rooted racism in our institutions is to address race. And to address race as directly as the policies and ideologies that were used to create racism as the first slaves arrived in America and through the Civil Rights era.
Regardless of this ruling, we are still capable of not only being accepted into higher education but excelling in our achievements when we are there. This ruling says nothing about our ability to do that. This ruling only impacts how admissions processes may fail to recognize what we already know we can achieve. We are deserving to have access to education without the barriers of racism and discrimination.
“A Mizzou Student Perspective” by Kayla Sydnor
For marginalized communities, the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Affirmative Action was disappointing yet not surprising. For me, I wonder what effect this will have for marginalized students in the future coming to Missouri?
After the ruling by the conservative majority court, Missouri’s Attorney General Andrew Bailey called for universities across the state––including the University of Missouri (MU) System––to cease offering race-based scholarships.
MU System President and MU Chancellor, Mun Choi, along with MU spokesperson, Christian Basi, announced that the University of Missouri-Columbia will stop race-based scholarships and admissions going forward. However, they will honor the awards already given to students before SCOTUS’ ruling. The university was not using race-based admissions as part of the process, but a small percentage of programs did, and this can still have a detrimental effect going forward.
In recent years, MU has had racial tension on campus and this past school year was one of the most intense since the Concerned Student 1950 protests in 2015. From white boys yelling racial slurs at Black students in broad daylight in a truck on campus, to Megan Miller not being punished for her racially charged Snapchat post; this is yet another slap in the face to marginalized students at the university. It is as if 2015 taught us nothing.
While this is disheartening, MU is a public university and required by law to oblige to the ruling, so there is not much the university can do to go against this decision besides figure out a way to give out scholarships without a race component.
Following this ruling, U.S. Rep. Cori Bush as well as State Rep. LaKeysha Bosley, both hailing from St. Louis, made similar statements saying how ending affirmative action will devastate the country.
My heart sunk to the floor, and I actually almost panicked at the thought of my scholarship at the MU being taken away before learning about the school honoring it. I was lucky enough to be admitted to the university and receive a scholarship, as well as going to grad school at my soon-to-be alma mater on a tuition waiver.
What does this mean for students who will apply in the years to come in the state?
American society is regressing right before our eyes to achieve an unattainable standard where there is a refusal to acknowledge race. This country’s model since its inception was not built on these principles nor will it ever be achieved during our lifetimes. It may never obtain this standard.
Sur,e we can pick ourselves up by our bootstraps and get to work, but for people of color, there are so many disadvantages. Not only do we have to pull up our imaginary bootstraps, we have to continuously fight for our rights in a country that doesn’t see us as equal. We can’t tie ourselves up by our bootstraps if we aren’t even given the laces right off the bat.
In order to reach this unattainable standard that we psych ourselves out of having, we have to change our mode of things in terms of how we review applicants whether it be for higher education or jobs.
To all the universities across the country: if race doesn’t matter at the end of the day when admitting students, the first thing to do is to stop asking for race on the applications. Start measuring students by the merit that this country claims people should have.