After finding the last unit of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights quite interesting and in keeping with our class’ current events assignment, this week I decided to follow the Supreme Court’s commitment to revisit a decision made about the University of Texas’s affirmative action program. As my class has learned, the use of race and the establishment of affirmative action programs have been controversies and long-winded debates for our country. I first learned of this issue two weeks ago when I was assigned to study the Supreme Court case Bakke vs. UC Regents.
In this case, the Supreme Court decided that use of racial quotas is unconstitutional; race cannot be a factor in denying someone a spot, but it can be a factor in admitting someone into the university. However, the decision made by the Supreme Court in the Bakke case has been debated many times since 1966. For example, in the 2003 case Grutter vs. Bollinger the Supreme Court decided to allow states to take race into consideration during their admissions processes.
Now this is where the case being revisited comes in. After the Grutter decision was made, Texas decided to reinstate their affirmative action programs in their public universities. However, Abigail Fisher claimed that she was unconstitutionally denied admissions to the University of Texas solely based on the fact that she was white. However, UT argued that their affirmative action program was unique in the sense that the admissions team “assessed applicants who might not otherwise be admitted under the Top Ten Percent Law.” However, according to the Huffington Post, that argument may not work for the Supreme Court any longer. The Supreme Court is being faced with another question: should affirmative action programs be deemed unconstitutional and no longer legal to establish? Or, is there a proper and constitutional way to establish and use one of these programs in order to further develop racial integration?
I would like to present you all with some questions that even my high school has discussed: What is diversity? Is diversity just found in different races, ethnicities, and religions? Or is diversity found in mind, body, and spirit? I believe our country focuses a lot on this idea of diversity with a very narrow view that should be broadened. Should colleges really be worrying about filling a quota system or should they be worrying about taking the best of the best, no matter what race they are? Even Justice O’Connor said there would come a day when “the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary to foster educational diversity.” I believe the time has come. Throughout the past three years at a small, all girls’ school, and during my time in Spain, I have learned, and strongly believe that anyone can be considered diverse, for no two people are alike; we all have unique stories, various experiences, and something different to bring to the table. If colleges did not force diversity and just accepted those whom they felt would contribute something to their communities, diversity would come naturally.
I look forward to following the discussions about this topic and hearing the Supreme Court’s decision this fall.