Affirmative Action Helpful to Schools

Public universities in Michigan cannot use race as a factor in admissions decisions. This is the outcome of a recent Supreme Court case, upholding a 2006 referendum supported by a majority of voters in the state.

The policy of affirmative action was introduced as a result of the Civil Rights Movement to promote equality in the workforce and classroom for all genders and races. It gives individuals from underrepresented groups an advantage in competitive professional and educational markets.  What this means for college admissions is that if an African American student and a white student with similar academic merit apply to the same school, admissions officers can choose the African American student simply because of his race.

In other words, “positive discrimination.”

To use the race of an individual as a factor in admissions decisions rather than solely relying on academic merit or extra-curriculars reaffirms the concept of racism. The idea that racism has completely been demolished in today’s day in age is naive. It still exists to a certain extent, however not to the extreme as it did prior to the Civil Rights Movement. When affirmative action was introduced in the 1960s, it served its purpose and increased the proportion of individuals from underrepresented groups in high-profile positions. It was an excellent tool during that era, but America has come a long way in the past fifty years, so far in fact that affirmative action is now unnecessary.


The United States prides itself on the idea of being a melting pot of hundreds of cultures, ethnicities and religions. In order to support this ideal, individual admissions officers of higher education institutions should look at each applicant as an equal and base their decisions on what the potential student has to bring to the table. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in a 2007 decision, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Some may argue that affirmative action is still as necessary as it was in the past because if taken away, it may cause educational institutions to revert back to old practices.  After affirmative action was discontinued in California, for example, the percentage of African American students in the elite public state schools dropped from 6.5% to below 3%. However, other states with affirmative action bans were more successful; Texas, which automatically admits the top 10% students of each public high school, has seen gains in the number of black freshmen. If diversity is the main goal of a university, then a legislative policy shouldn’t be necessary to make sure schools follow through.

Recruitment is another important technique in attracting a diverse student body. There are many private colleges across the nation, such as St. John’s University in New York, that pour thousands of dollars into persuading students of all ethnicities to apply to their schools. They are not required to abide by the affirmative action decree because they do not receive funding from state or federal governments. If private universities can create a thriving and diverse environment on their campuses without a legislative push, then why can’t public universities do the same?

The remaining states should follow in the steps of Michigan, Florida, California and Texas in promoting a more fair admissions process for students of all ethnicities. By doing so the nation as a whole will move forward in supporting the ideals they pride themselves on.