Affirmative action expands diversity

Staff Editorial

The Supreme Court is re-evaluating the constitutionality of affirmative action in the case of Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and UNC. The ruling in this case will change the college admission process for millions of students across the US.
Affirmative action is a procedure set in place by college admissions offices intended to maximize diversity for underrepresented communities.
According to the legal reports published in 2018 by the SFFA during a hearing in Boston’s federal district court, Harvard shows a statistically significant difference in acceptance rates between Asian Americans (about 25 percent) and Hispanic and Black Americans (75 and 95 percent) with the same test scores and GPA.
In their defense, Harvard called expert David Card, a UC Berkeley economist, who testified that no statistically significant data existed that proves SFFA’s claims. Harvard denied any racial discrimination in their admissions process and explained it also uses essays, recommendations, extracurriculars, and more information to determine students’ acceptance.
The Supreme Court will announce their ruling around June of 2023. If the court rules in favor of SFFA, this could significantly alter what colleges students are accepted by and the diversity on those campuses.
In 2020, University of North Carolina’s Black students accounted for only four percent of the student population, while white students made up 57 percent even with affirmative action in place, according to Vox. A report by Harvard’s amicus curiae, Legal Defense Fund, stated that if colleges removed affirmative action and only examined academic achievements, 20 percent of Asian students currently at elite universities would not be accepted.
Banning affirmative action would also disproportionately affect Black students whose presence at Harvard grew from three percent in the class of 1980 to 27.6 percent in the class of 2026 after implementing the policy.
According to the Los Angeles Times, all 10 chancellors at the UC schools, have shown support of Harvard and UNC. The UCs, who removed affirmative action in 1998 after it was banned in California, saw the admission of Black first-year students drop by nearly half.
Since then, UC’s diversity has gradually grown with the removal of standardized testing and other racially neutral modes of evaluation.
The precedent set in prior cases such as Fisher v. Texas (2013) establishes affirmative action as constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause.
Regardless, if the court rules in favor of SFFA, it will alter the future of student’s admissions and diversity on college campuses across the country.