The future of affirmative action in college admissions is on the line as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Monday to assess whether Harvard and the University of North Carolina can continue considering race as a factor in their admissions process.
The UNC at Chapel Hill is accused by critics of giving preference to Black, Hispanic and Native American students. However, Julia Clark, a leader of the Black Student Movement at UNC, said race is important for universities to consider.
“We cannot have holistic admissions without race. Because race is embedded into every single facet of everyday lives for people who come from diverse backgrounds,” she said.
Affirmative action was challenged by the conservative group Student for Fair Admissions. The group argues that Harvard discriminates against Asian American students to make room for Hispanic and Black students.
“We’re trying to eliminate race based discrimination here,” said Kenny Xu, a board member for Student for Fair Admissions. “No one should be surprised that we’re trying to make it more color blind country where race is less of a factor in our country and admissions, promotions, and hiring.”
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson raised her concerns over the elimination of affirmative action.
“We’re entertaining a rule in which some people can say the things they want, about who they are and have that valued in the system,” she said. “But other people are not going to be able to. Because they won’t be able to reveal that they’re Latino or African American or whatever and I’m worried that that creates an inequity in the system with respect to being able to express your identity.”
The Supreme court’s 6-3 conservative majority could end any consideration of race in admission, but a decision is not expected until next spring.