What is Diversity?

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.

 

 

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8 comments

  1. You definitely put a lot of thought and research into this blog post. Your final paragraph sticks out the most to me when you said, “If colleges did not force diversity and just accepted those whom they felt would contribute something to their communities, diversity would come naturally.” You are absolutely right, colleges and businesses believe that diversity means different genders, ethnicities and religions. No 2 people are exactly the same though. Having a naturally occurring diversity would do so much more for students than forcing diversity to happen. Many places only believe diversity is something that can be seen, while in reality it is so much more than that and you really hit on that with your last paragraph. Great post.
    -Michael
    –A student in EDM310 at the University of South Alabama.

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    • Hello, Michael!

      Thank you for your response. I completely agree that naturally occurring diversity would do so much for students.

      As you have said, there is such depth behind the meaning of diversity, but unfortunately I feel people only see its generic definition.

      Thanks again for your comment, it is very much appreciated!

      Best,
      Julianne

      Like

  2. This is something that we talked about in class as well. We agreed that schools who leave certain spots for minorities are violating the constitutional rights of those who don’t get in because of it. We thought that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment that says that no State can “deprive any person of life, liberty, or property…nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”. I took this to mean that no person should ever get any privileges over another unless required by law, which, obviously, colleges are not. However, some colleges are now doing a sort of point system that allows each applicant to get a point for certain characteristics that they possess, such as race. I believe this is still not fair because it is still giving a privilege to someone over someone else. If there were one Caucasion and one African American who had the exact same qualifications, who is the school to say that the African American is the applicant who should get in? So, in conclusion, I agree with Michael when he says that “having a naturally occurring diversity would do so much more for students than forcing diversity to happen”. I believe that this is absolutely true. And I will go an extra step to say that schools should look at the best student to fit their school not the one who looks the most “diverse” to an outsider. Like you said, diversity is more than something that can be seen.

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    • Hello Ms. Kennard,

      Thank you very much for your post! My AP GOV class has also discussed the Fourteenth Amendment in relation to affirmative action programs, and we also said that this was a violation of the clause stated in the Amendment.

      I also completely agree with you that colleges should be looking, solely, at the students who will fit in their communities.

      Thanks again for your comment.

      Best,
      Juliane

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  3. Hi. My name is Ashlea and I am a student at the University of South Alabama. Diversity is a great topic and I think all students should learn about it as well as make their own definition about it. I really like how you pointed out that everybody is diverse, even if we are from the same ethnic background. I do not think that any school or college should limit the amount of types of people they have. Admitting people based on their potential should be the only type of acceptance there is. Great post. I look forward to seeing how this case turns out as well.

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    • Hello Ms. Leytham,

      Thank you very much for your post. I absolutely agree with the points that you brought up. I really like how you said that everyone should make their own definition about diversity. It is so true that there is no one definition to the word, so through experience people should form their own definition.

      I also believe that limiting the “types” of people that are accepted can only be hindrance to achieving true diversity.

      Thanks again for your comment, I greatly appreciate it.

      Best,
      Julianne

      Like

  4. Julianne, my name is Eric and I am a student at the Parish Episcopal School in Dallas, TX. I really appreciate your carefully crafted and well-constructed blog post! I am very interested in this topic, especially because I will be applying to colleges this next year. I agree that people are diverse in many ways, not just race. Colleges try to fill their student body with the most diverse group of students in order to create a well-cultured and well-rounded campus atmosphere. This includes extracurricular achievement, economic status, race, sexual-orientation, gender etc. I truly believe that this list could never be complete because everyone is unique in their own personal way. However, I do not think that our educational system is quite ready to be blind to ethnic backgrounds in the admissions process. Statistically speaking, due to our nation’s relatively recent segregated history and a constant inflow of low income minorities, certain ethnic groups are statistically at a disadvantage. This system will take several more generations to recover. Students born into higher income families receive higher levels of education and mentoring. In a talk that I went to two weeks ago, by one of our nation’s most renowned demographers, Steve Murdock, who worked for George W. Bush and is now a professor at Rice University, showed statistics that suggest that students from higher income families do, on average, have higher SAT scores. In addition, Murdock showed statistics showing that Asian families, on average, have the highest average income, closely followed by the white, non-hispanic, ethnic group. In order to move our nation into a more progressive direction, making race an insignificant factor to average academic achievement, the universities should be aware of barriers that have put groups of people at a disadvantage. Ideally speaking I hope that one day our nation will be able to be race blind. However, I do not believe we are ready to make this transition. I believe that making the transition now would be premature, and that minorities will fall behind. When is the right time to be ethnicity blind in the college admissions process? I do not have the answer, but it is definitely a situation to monitor and carefully consider in the in ensuing decades.

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    • Hello Eric,

      Thank you so much for your post! You have certainly brought up some very good points, and I definitely agree with them.

      I do not think society is necessarily prepared to make a drastic switch, and nor do I believe that colleges can just automatically stop what they are doing and change their ways; however, I do believe we must start somewhere and with baby steps.

      Thank you for all your opinions and ideas, Eric!

      Best,
      Julianne

      Like

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