Affirmative Action ruled ‘unconstitutional’
By Emily Cacciatore
As Nation Ford seniors approach the end of their high school career, they need to understand the policy changes and new procedures for applying to college this year. The most impactful of these changes is the Supreme Court’s June 29 ruling to eliminate universities’ ability to consider race for admissions, a policy also known as Affirmative Action.
Affirmative Action was a program that was put in place to introduce more opportunities for the historically under-represented and to ensure more diversity in schools and the workplace.
This program was established to help groups of people with a background of being denied opportunities and leadership roles. Affirmative Action provided them with opportunities for scholarships, grants, and jobs due to hiring or admissions quotas.
This program was declared “unconstitutional” by the Supreme Court in June by a vote of 6 to 3. The case to admonish Affirmative Action was brought to court by a group called Students For Fair Admissions led by Edward Blum, a conservative activist.
Before the ruling, nine states–Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington, California, and Michigan–had already officially banned Affirmative Action, but the new ruling will now limit how colleges in all states consider race in the college admissions process.
While this ruling eliminates opportunities for minorities through a check box system, students can include personal information in their college essays.
The top prompt for Common App, a college application form used by over 900 universities, is: “Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”
This question is where students can discuss their race, disability, or sexuality.
“They can do so by mentioning an aspect of their heritage or their identification with a particular group, says Career Development Facilitator (CDF), Bonnie Kleffman. “Now, not to just say it for the sake of saying it, but frame that characteristic about yourself in terms of a lesson learned, a struggle, or a family tradition. It should not feel like you’re mentioning race just to mention it; the subject has to be framed correctly.
“I would rather have a student leave any references to that off than write a poor essay,” she adds.
Instead of a set number or percentage of applicants based on race, disability, or sexuality, it is now up to each individual college to make decisions on admissions policy.
According to studies by the University of California, Berkeley in August 2020, the loss of Affirmative Action in college admissions indicated a poor outcome for minorities.
“The end of Affirmative Action in California not only reduced the number of Black and Hispanic students in the University of California system, but it also weakened their odds of finishing college, going to graduate school, and earning a higher salary,” the study says.
That’s how one school reacted, but for the entirety of America, Kleffman says, “Only time will tell. Once we get the balance statistics from admissions officers, I’d say give it two years to really analyze that data of who got in but really, who fills up their incoming classes.
“Who accepts the offers, how many students are enrolled at XYZ College, and what is their racial and ethnic background? It’s a big wait-and-see,” Kleffman says, “but I don’t think it’s going to impact the world quite as much because the admissions officers see all your information, anyway.
“Every admissions officer is charged with building a balanced class of not only racial diversity but also geographical diversity, international students, a balance of sports people and academic people, all the different musicians, etc. That is not going to change,” she says. “Going into the college admissions process this year as a minority student after this ruling, if you are fearing your spot at colleges.
“I think that the quality of the application matters so much more. This is a minor thing, so students should always strive to take the most rigorous coursework they can succeed in while keeping mental health in check,” Kleffman says.
“Get the best grades they can, participate in extracurricular activities that they care about deeply, maybe seek leadership if that’s something they’re interested in, and really write quality work on their applications be they, with short-answer questions or with a main essay,” she recommends.