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The Dallas Examiner

The United States Supreme Court overturned the use of affirmative action in colleges and universities across America, in its June 29 rulings in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. University of North Carolina.

“Today’s Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina is a step backward for our nation,” Vice President Kamala Harris stated during a press conference. “It rolls back long-established precedent and will make it more difficult for students from underrepresented backgrounds to have access to opportunities that will help them fulfill their full potential.

The decades-long affirmative action decision allowed for the consideration of race and adversities as a part of the admissions process. Its purpose was to eliminate the biases against Black and Latin students, which once allowed administrators to deny admission to students of underrepresented groups, even after segregation became illegal.

“Forty-five years – for 45 years, the United States Supreme Court has recognized a college’s freedom to decide how to build diverse student bodies and to meet their responsibility of opening doors of opportunity for every single American,” said President Joe Biden, who said he strongly disagreed with the Court’s decision during a media conference.

“In case after case, including recently, just as a few years ago in 2016, the Court has affirmed and reaffirmed this view: that colleges could use race not as a determinative factor for admission, but as one of the factors among many in deciding who to admit from an already qualified pool of applicants.”

Recognizing how affirmative action has been misunderstood and sometimes the subject of misinformation, Biden wanted to make its purpose clear.

“Many people wrongly believe that affirmative action allows unqualified students – unqualified students – to be admitted ahead of qualified students. This is not how college admissions work,” Biden explained. “Rather, colleges set out standards for admission, and every student has to meet those standards. Then, and only then … do colleges look at other factors in addition to their grades, such as race.”

Many civil rights groups were quick to express their disapproval of the decision in written statements to the media, while other groups took a more vocal approach.

Wisdom O. Cole, NAACP national director of youth and college, led a mobilized group of students and activists the Supreme Court steps later that day.

“This is a dark day in America. Affirmative action has been a beacon of hope for generations of Black students,” Cole expressed. “It stood as a powerful force against the insidious poison of racism and sexism, aiming to level the playing field and provide a fair shot at a high-quality education for all. Students across the country are wide awake to the clear and present danger encroaching on their classrooms. We will continue to fight, organize, mobilize and vote against all attempts to hold us back. We will hold the line against this clear pattern of hate. We will thrive.”

However, not all statements expressed disapproval. Reflecting on reports from groups that stated affirmative action discriminated against Asian Americans and eliminated White students who would have otherwise been enrolled.

For over a year, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Steel, R-Calif., led 82 Republican legislators in an effort to end the use of affirmative action, with claims that it discriminated against Asian Americans and other non-Black and non-Hispanic students “despite their superior GPAs and standardized test scores.”

“Today, the Supreme Court upheld the 14th Amendment rights of Asian Americans and ruled that Harvard and the University of North Carolina’s explicit and egregious policies of racially discriminating against Asian Americans and other students are unconstitutional,” Cruz stated. “Both Harvard and UNC have had long and ugly traditions of discrimination – Harvard with its anti-Jewish quotas in the 20th century and UNC with racial segregation – that made it impossible for a prospective student to be judged on his or her own merit, rather than their skin color or religious background. These universities eventually ended these forms of overt discrimination, instead substituting them for a different, more subtle form of discrimination in affirmative action. Today, the Supreme Court has ended our country’s long and failed experiment with racial quotas and government-sanctioned racial discrimination, and, in the process, restored some measure of objectivity and fairness to the college admissions process. This is a great day for all Americans.”

The Supreme Court Justices, from left, front row: Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr., and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Back row: Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and Associate Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. – Photo by Fred Schilling/Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States

But many human rights and education groups disagree and insist that affirmative action is still needed in the admissions process.

“Today will go down in history as the day six justices took one of the most established and effective tools, we have to fight discrimination and promote equality,” stated Patrick Gaspard, president of the Center for American Progress.

“In states that banned affirmative action, public universities saw dramatic declines in the number of minority students admitted.”

Harris called on advocates to continue to work.

“Today’s decision will impact our country for decades to come,” Harris insisted. “In the wake of this decision, we must work with ever more urgency to make sure that all of our young people have an opportunity to thrive.”

Acknowledging that racism still exist and the wealthy and well-connected are usually the benefactors of the higher education system, the president insisted that America could do better in creating a system that worked for everyone.

“Today, I’m directing the Department of Education to analyze what practices help build a more inclusive and diverse student bodies and what practices hold that back, practices like legacy admissions and other systems that expand privilege instead of opportunity,” Biden announced.

“We need to remember that diversity is our strength. We have to find a way forward. We need to remember that the promise of America is big enough for everyone to succeed. You know, that’s the work of my administration, and I’m always going to fight for that.”

Moreover, many education groups and advocates are determined to continue the progress to eliminate biases that that may hold students back from receiving a fair and equitable education.

“Racism and discrimination are not just artifacts of American history but continue to persist in our society, including our schools, colleges, and universities,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association. “Affirmative action and programs like it expand higher education opportunities to those who have been historically denied a fair shot. When we ensure the many talents and experiences of students of color aren’t overlooked in admissions processes that tend to be biased against them, we create schools, a country and a future that includes us all. NEA remains committed to that work and calls on institutions of higher education and K-12 schools to redouble their efforts to ensure that our educational institutions support all students equally and equitably.”

Moving forward, universities can and should also examine and improve their policies and practices to expand opportunity, including broadening recruitment efforts to underserved communities, developing robust middle school and high school pipelines, increasing need-based supports, and improving campus climate, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The Supreme Court’s decision today does not change the responsibility of colleges and universities to increase educational opportunities for students of color,” said ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program. “Colleges have long touted diversity as imperative to creating enriching educational environments for all students – our institutions of higher education must double down on that commitment and advance policies that ensure every student gets a fair shot. In fact, colleges can still consider race in alternative ways and students can continue to discuss race and how it has shaped their character or unique abilities in the college admissions process.

“Our nation’s future as a thriving multiracial democracy depends on students having the freedom and opportunity to learn, work together, and understand what unites us. We will continue to fight to realize that future and remove the barriers and inequities Black, Latino, Native American, Asian American and other underrepresented groups experience, not only in higher education, but throughout the K-12 system.”

Robyn H. Jimenez is the Vice President of Production and Editorial at The Dallas Examiner. She began working at newspaper in January of 2001. She was hired temporarily as a secretary and soon became a...

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