Ishaan Nandwani, Opinion Editor
Diversity is almost certainly the 21st century buzzword for higher education institutions.
It has been celebrated in charts on college flyers and brochures, praised by admissions officers during introductions to prospective students, and served as the focal point of countless schools’ mission statements.
There’s a reason why diversity is so sought after, especially in elite schools. These institutions recognize that while Black, Latino, and Indigenous students have always been at a disadvantage in the education system, their perspectives and experiences are critical. Positive discrimination has been the solution to increasing diversity in prestigious universities and a solution that I consider essential.
affirmative action allows colleges and universities to consider an applicant’s race and background when making admissions decisions, although it prohibits explicit racial quotas. Despite its benefits, this practice has been frequently challenged by those who argue that applicants should be assessed solely on their credentials.
Frighteningly, despite its long history in college admissions, affirmative action is at risk of being banned. On October 31, the Supreme Court will hear two cases that could overturn this precedent.
The first case alleges that Harvard University discriminates against Asian American applicants. The second case argues that the University of North Carolina systematically uses race to increase admissions for underrepresented minorities. These lawsuits were brought by Students for Fair Admissions, an anti-affirmative action organization led by a coalition of students and parents.
Although lower courts have ruled in favor of Harvard and UNC and the Supreme Court has upheld affirmative action in the past, given the court’s rightward turn — exacerbated by the three justices appointed by the former President Donald Trump – the danger of this precedent being overturned is real. We have already seen abortion rights taken away and gun rights extended; another controversial decision by this court would not surprise me.
The reversal of affirmative action would be catastrophic, both for our universities and for the entire workforce.
Affirmative action has consistently proven to be the most effective way to increase diversity in selective colleges. At the University of Michigan, an institution that is not allowed to practice affirmative action by state law, diversity has suffered. According to a Short from the university in support of Harvard and UNC, Michigan has engaged in countless outreach efforts to increase student enrollment from underrepresented minorities, but these efforts have been unsuccessful . Enrollment of students from underrepresented minorities has declined.
Diversity in itself is essential for a myriad of reasons. A racially homogeneous student body would suffer not only from a lack of physical dissimilarity, but also from an absence of diversity in ideas, worldviews, and cultural perspectives.
Plus, representation is key — whether it’s the black student who’s the only one of his race in his engineering lecture at Harvard, or the young Latina student who dreams of attending Brown but yearns to see someone. ‘one as she admitted.
If affirmative action is reversed, the mental health of underrepresented minority students could suffer as their enrollment in elite schools plummets, creating a vicious cycle that prevents these students from achieving the same success. than their white and Asian counterparts.
The impact of this decision will also be felt in the workforce. We will see fewer underrepresented minorities such as doctors, lawyers and engineers. In the medical field, my personal journey, studies have consistently shown that black patients have better health outcomes when treated by providers who match their racial background. So this decision has far-reaching implications that go far beyond a college’s racial makeup, affecting something as sacred as its health.
The Supreme Court must face this sobering truth when it deliberates these cases this fall.
Ultimately, as the best method for increasing diversity in selective schools, affirmative action is an essential aspect of the admissions process. We can’t let it die out.