I think the Supreme Court will likely gut or eliminate affirmative action based on the way this recent case is going. The case challenges the University of Texas’s use of race as a factor to be considered in admission. The policy follows prior Supreme Court guidelines for an acceptable affirmative action policy: it does not set a quota, it does not have a rigid point system, it considers every student individually. The only reason the court is hearing the case, I imagine is to revisit precedent since based on precedent this policy is constitutional.
Looking over Nina Totenberg’s reporting on NPR, I think the crux of the matter is how vague and as a result unpredictable and unsettling the current state of affairs is. The current rule is that a school can aim for a “critical mass” of diverse students and no one knows what that is. It can’t be defined or else it would be a quota, but since it can’t be defined it gives affirmative action this feeling of perpetual vagueness.
I support affirmative action policies for a variety of reasons not the least of which being that all kinds of students (legacies, athletes, artists) get preferential treatment for what they bring to the community, so why shouldn’t students of diverse backgrounds. However, in most of those other cases there are more set numbers. A football team can give X number of scholarships. A college orchestra needs Y number of violinists. The numbers involved may be less transparent with legacies, but I bet there is a numerical imit.
I actually do not think there would be anything wrong with saying a school can use affirmative action to maintain a balance in its population similar to the percentages in the high school graduates of that state. Of course the complaint would be about “less” qualified students being taken over “more” qualified students, but then again what do we mean by qualified?
Since my idea would never be approved in the real world, I wonder what would happen then if a school took the radical step of admitting their entire class based on taking the top 10% from each high school in the state. This would guarantee diversity if the high schools stayed segregated. It would be race blind and utterly fair in a statistical sense. But imagine the side effects…
Well, with the Supreme Court likely to ban affirmative action, perhaps some state will implement this radical policy and everyone can watch to see what happens.