As the Supreme Court readies to hear two seminal cases this fall that will decide the fate of Affirmative Action, two top public university systems have filed amicus briefs with the high court. And it’s not just any two top public university systems: it’s two university systems that previously banned the consideration of race in their admissions decision-making. That’s right. Two university systems that years ago banned the practice of Affirmative Action have filed briefs with the court urging its justices to uphold the right of universities to consider race in admissions decision-making. And why? Because, they argue, since banning Affirmative Action, they have not been able to admit the diverse classes they seek.
In a New York Times piece by Stephanie Saul entitled “Affirmative Action Was Banned at Two Top Universities. They Say They Need It.,” “It has been more than 15 years since two of the country’s top public university systems, the University of Michigan and the University of California, were forced to stop using affirmative action in admissions. Since then, both systems have tried to build racially diverse student bodies through extensive outreach and major financial investment, well into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Those efforts have fallen abysmally short, the universities admitted in two amicus briefs filed this month at the Supreme Court, which is set to consider the future of affirmative action in college admissions this fall. Among the data points: In 2021, the entering freshman class at the University of California, Berkeley, included 258 Black students and 27 Native American students out of a class of 6,931. That same year, Black enrollment at Michigan’s flagship campus in Ann Arbor was 4 percent, even as the university maintained a special admissions office in Detroit to recruit Black students.”
And while we fear that the Supreme Court will outlaw Affirmative Action in the months to come, it is our sincere hope that these powerful amicus briefs filed by the University of Michigan and University of California systems sway a couple of conservative justices to maintain the status quo. It is our hope they realize that outlawing Affirmative Action will in fact lead to a significant drop in diversity — particularly for Black, Latino, and Native American students — at our nation’s top universities. Indeed these two top university systems should be commended for their candor in sharing their years-long struggle to maintain diversity after banning Affirmative Action. May the justices of America’s highest court heed their warning.
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