This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that colleges could not determine acceptances based on race in any capacity. Recently, there have been numerous investigations into colleges discriminating against who they accept. Last year, a lawsuit targeting Harvard and the University of North Carolina (UNC) made its way to The Supreme Court. After months of deliberation, the Supreme Court ruled that colleges could not consider race in any capacity when admitting and declining applicants. This specifically included affirmative action. Affirmative action is a system during the application process that allows colleges to give preference to students of color or applicants from low-income backgrounds, considering that they often do not have the opportunities that other applicants have.

Students protest the Supreme Court’s ruling on Affirmative Action. Photo: WUNC

In the past, affirmative action has caused controversy. Some people believe that affirmative action puts qualified students at a disadvantage, while the majority of people believe that affirmative action allows colleges to even the playing field. Studies found that, on average, up to 62 percent of people support the use of affirmative action. With so much past controversy, it is not surprising that the Supreme Court’s ruling led to widespread protests.

There has been intense controversy over the result of this ruling. While some believe this ruling will diminish the prejudice people have faced in the college application process, others believe the ruling will only lead to worse discrimination. While this sounds ideal initially, some believe that by not being actively conscious of race, colleges will be unable to ensure that a diverse group of people will be accepted annually. A study done by the Ivy Institute found that subconsciously, admissions officers attempt to predict an applicant’s race, which can influence their decision to admit a student. On account of this subconscious bias, much of the population was concerned with the result of this ruling. Many strongly believe that this decision will worsen the discrimination crisis, with admissions officers unable to combat their unconscious bias. Additionally, most people do not support this ruling, as they believe that without affirmative action, students of color and students from underprivileged backgrounds will not be accepted to these colleges as often. Since affirmative action weighed in the opportunities that students were given, there was a more even acceptance rate of different races.

The other side of the argument is that this ruling will help avoid discrimination in the admissions process. Harvard and UNC mentioned they were accepting students with slightly less merit than others to fulfill a racial quota. Additionally, to avoid an imbalance of minorities, these colleges were declining students of certain races, despite those applicants being overqualified. Supporters of the ruling believe that now, as these universities are unable to reject or accept applicants based on race, discrimination in the admissions process will be diminished greatly. Additionally, some supporters of the ruling believe that this system will be an improvement as colleges will now accept students on merit alone, and no preference would be given to students from underprivileged backgrounds or underrepresented races.

Considering this ruling is so recent, there is currently no way to tell if it will negatively or positively affect students and their college acceptances. It is very likely that while this ruling will be beneficial to some students, many students with fewer opportunities will struggle with college admissions without the aid of affirmative action. Hopefully, with new data being constantly collected in reference to this issue, the topic will be revisited, and an ideal solution will be found.

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