OPINION: Threat to Affirmative Action Looms in the Supreme Court

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Should colleges and universities be allowed to discriminate against students based on their race, ethnicity, gender identity, or sexuality? Of course not! It seems like a ridiculous question, one right out of civil-war-era America, or some other nation that has not yet “defeated” racism (like we in America certainly, absolutely have). Those who are most qualified should get into the universities they apply for, no questions asked! It shouldn’t matter what they look like or where they come from. At least, that’s what it should be.

The issue is, we haven’t defeated racism. That beast is still very much alive and thriving within America, only bolstered and grown more sly because of the previous blows we dealt to it. That very monster is exactly what affirmative action seeks to defend from. Universities thrive to foster a healthy, diverse learning community. To enable this, many schools use a system known as “affirmative action.” Essentially, the universities find categories of minorities and attempt to meet an allocation of each of those groups so that within that university’s group of students, you can find someone from every background and every identity. These universities believe that this system prevents them from creating communities that are heavily dominant towards one group or another. After all, to see every side of a cube, you need to look at it from multiple angles. However, some believe that because this system is allowing schools to accept or decline students because of their race, it violates the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. Those individuals have filed lawsuits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, intent on bringing down affirmative action.

Affirmative action already firmly rests atop a hill of precedent, with the latest case allowing it to continue dating back to as early as 2016. These past cases, however, have almost exclusively upheld affirmative action when the Supreme Court has a left-leaning majority. Now, after the appointments made by twice-impeached President Trump, the highest court in the United States leans firmly to the right with a 6-3 majority.

Personally, I think we desperately need affirmative action if we don’t want our colleges to continue to be whitewashed and largely composed of cis white males. Although on paper, the idea of choosing whether or not to admit someone because of where they come from sounds awful, the current implementations of affirmative action serve to ensure that everyone is actually given the equal opportunity the law seeks to give them. In that way, having the structure of categories that must be filled ensures a diverse learning environment. While affirmative action programs are easily misconstrued as violations of the U.S. Constitution, I feel these misrepresentations are merely a shameful attempt to create a false idea of anti-white racism. Until we can truly defeat racism, we need affirmative action programs to ensure a diverse community that sees and hears all perspectives.