Do students of color require special consideration? This is an issue that schools across the country have tried to resolve through affirmative action or other special measures. Should spaces be allotted to rectify inequalities and enhance diversity? There are many who oppose affirmative action, and there are those who see it as the answer to providing opportunities to minorities. But to truly do so, we must take a more moderate stance, one that looks at people as complex individuals, not as numbers or quotas.
In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court adopted a moderate stance and voted on a nationwide standard based on a case involving the University of Michigan, ruling that public universities could not give an applicant automatic advantage based on race or ethnicity. In a decision written by Justice Sandra Day O’Conner, the court also ruled that colleges should consider race and ethnicity on a case-by-case assessment of applicants.
This year, with Justice Samuel Alito, the courts are considering a case involving the University of Texas, which admits top students but also admits an additional group, taking race into account. Consideration of this case might change the fairly moderate standard currently in place.
Someone who judges students by race or scores alone does not understand America. Allotting a certain percentage of admits or giving more points for race alone does not serve to enhance diversity any more than ignoring minority groups entirely. A student body selected under these standards is not reflective of the world outside university walls. Maintaining a flexible stance, one that encourages case-by-case evaluation of students, validates different intelligences and experiences. Schools should not take the lazy way, relying simply on scores and skin color to determine futures.
Regardless of how the courts may rule, students should not hold back in submitting their applications, and students should send out applications without fearing rejection. Each application from a student of color sends the message that students of color want to pursue higher education, and possess the talent and experience to be considered fairly. But regardless of how or why you are accepted, engage in leadership and express your views, interests, and talents while on campus so that no one can doubt that diversity in a student body runs much deeper than skin color. (end)