On June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court decided to dismantle Affirmative Action with a vote of 6-3. Affirmative Action began in the 1960s, and its purpose was to address historical inequalities and promote equal opportunities. Affirmative Action was a way for universities to level the playing field and give underrepresented groups a fair shot at receiving higher education.
Political debate over dismantling Affirmative Action has been active since its enforcement under President Johnson in 1964 and the Civil Rights Act of 1965. Supporters of Affirmative Action believe its dismantling will promote social inequalities, while nonsupporters believe Affirmative Action is a form of reverse discrimination.
However, Affirmative Action is not just a black or brown issue. Instead, it is a guardrail that supports our society by making sure underrepresented groups such as LBGQT, minorities, women, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who cannot afford higher education have an opportunity for an education that otherwise would be out of their reach.
Affirmative Action works by helping college admissions boards understand how an applicant’s race-unique circumstances are a factor in the acceptance process. It is more than just determining which under-represented students will receive scholarships. It helps the admissions board consider factors that allow them to promote diversity and equal opportunities throughout their campus.
Prominent figures have denounced the dismantling of Affirmative Action, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, who stated, “It wasn’t perfect, but there’s no doubt that it helped offer new ladders of opportunity for those who, throughout our history, have too often been denied a chance to show how fast they can climb” (NBC News). Political conservatives see this dismantling as a success. President Donald Trump stated that the Supreme Court’s vote was “a great day for America” (NBC News). This statement is rooted in pure ignorance.
Affirmative Action benefited individuals who were underrepresented in society, enabling them to access higher education and professional opportunities that otherwise would not have been available. Its dismantling makes it difficult to create a diverse education and professional environment and has made it more challenging for universities to consider a student’s background and experience. Now, universities are beginning to reexamine their Legacy admission policies. Legacy policies prefer applications with generational ties with family members (parents or grandparents) who have attended the same college or university.
As the pros and cons of Affirmative Action are reexamined throughout educational institutions and professional arenas, a generation will suffer from its dismantling.
“Supreme Court Strikes down College Affirmative Action Programs.” NBCNews.Com, NBCUniversal News Group, www.nbcnews.com/politics/supreme-court/supreme-court-strikes-affirmative-action-programs-harvard-unc-rcna66770. Accessed 3 Sept. 2023.
“When Did Affirmative Action Start?” Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopedia Britannica, inc., www.britannica.com/question/When-did-affirmative-action-start. Accessed 4 Sept. 2023.