Affirmative Action ended this year: What’s next?

A 2023 court case has upended the controversial college admission rule. Here is what it means for our country.
Citizens take part in an Affirmative Action march on Feb. 12 2013 in Washington D.C. led by The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
Citizens take part in an Affirmative Action march on Feb. 12 2013 in Washington D.C. led by The Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
Jose Luis via Wikimedia Commons

All across the nation students from the class of 2024 are getting ready to apply to colleges. This past year a bill was passed, sparking conversation and controversy among students and faculty alike: the bill, passed by the Supreme Court, has done away with Affirmative Action. 

Colleges and Universities have used Affirmative Action to intentionally diversify student bodies and give extended opportunities to historically disadvantaged groups and communities

The practice of giving students of different races and backgrounds extended opportunities has previously been done by colleges as far back as 1978. However, the 2023 court case Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard changed the scope of what colleges can and can’t do in terms of profiling students in this way. 

It is now unlawful for school admissions programs to consider race when deciding on college applications.

This controversial ruling was made back in June of this year. The two universities at the center of the case were Harvard and UNC, the two oldest private and public colleges in the United States. Prior to the ruling, nine states had already banned affirmative action, including Florida, Idaho, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Washington, California, and Arizona.

Trisha Hasbrouck, the Director of College Counseling here at Saint Stephen’s, described the verdict as “a bit lopsided.” 

Hasbrouck added: “While the goal of the bill was to focus college admissions solely on merit, there are several other issues that were seemingly disregarded: legacy, donors, access, etc. None of those other factors speak to a student’s individual merit, but they have the ability to affect admissions decisions.”

This means that, even though racial admissions are ending, colleges will continue accepting applicants based on other characteristics, such as money and tradition.

In response to the rulings, many people are demanding an end to legacy admissions.

The University of California system eliminated affirmative action in 1995. By 1998, the number of Black and Latino students accepted at Berkeley and UCLA were cut almost in half, according to the L.A. Times. 

Mrs. Nikki Williams, our College Counselor with a background in college admissions, believes that race should still be valued in certain aspects of a college environment. 

 “While race was never a single deciding factor in an admissions decision, it is certainly part of the student’s identity and they should be able to share their perspectives. My hope for colleges is that they will not defund certain programs or offices like the Diversity and Inclusion Office, as an example, because each student should feel safe, comfortable and have a second home while on campus.”

It’s obvious that in the modern age, race plays a factor into someone’s identity, however, in the future, it could be harder to express one’s ethnicity and background in a college application setting.

So, what does this mean for college applications going forward? For one, it is now more important than ever to provide important background details, according to Mrs. Hasbrouck.

Students will need to pay even more attention to the other components of their applications in order to tell their full story and provide important context.” 

The end of Affirmative Action means colleges will now need to find new ways to promote diversity and make sure all students with varying backgrounds get equal access to higher education. It is also possible that colleges may begin to place more emphasis on factors like socioeconomic status and first-generation status in the admissions process.

While Mrs. Hasbrouck doesn’t believe the bill will have a significant impact on the class of 2024, she thinks the verdict will cause “more college admissions practices to be reevaluated and reassessed.

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