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The Affirmative Action Watch Begins

The Affirmative Action Watch Begins

Access and equity — two underlying themes present in the majority of articles in .Black Issues In Higher Education. That’s what we’re all about. So the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court could very well deliver a landmark ruling that could change the way most U.S. colleges and universities have crafted their admissions policies for more than 20 years, is a significant development in higher education. This decision will affect wherever students of color, primarily Black and Latino students, go to college, particularly the top students. It could mean the difference between attending a top-tier state or private university — and not.

An alternative to race-conscious admissions, the “percentage plan,” has become the new buzzword even outside of education circles as media coverage of the University of Michigan’s case has truly gone national. As you will read in the next few pages, such plans are not the cure-all. For one, the effectiveness of percentage plans, depending on the demographic make-up of a state, relies on segregated high schools to be “successful.” That, at its core, is problematic. And there are a whole host of other issues that Black Issues will be exploring in upcoming editions in light of the Michigan case — how will historically Black colleges and universities be affected if the Supreme Court rules against Michigan? Percentage plans do not apply to graduate school admissions — what could this mean for students of color? As many in the higher education community are aware, the ramifications of a Supreme Court decision barring the use of race in college admissions are far reaching. The high court has not ruled yet and reports of colleges and universities discontinuing, for example, summer enrichment programs for minorities are already making the news.

Our cover stories, written by BI correspondent Erik Lords and senior writer Ronald Roach, explore the positions of those who support and oppose affirmative action. Lord’s article, “Taking Sides,” updates us on what lawyers for the University of Michigan as well as those for the plaintiffs are doing to prepare for oral arguments in April. Legal scholars also make predictions on the possible outcome. Roach’s article, “Living in a Post-Affirmative World,” looks more at the impact and consequences of a Supreme Court decision. Lastly, in Faculty Club, Kendra Hamilton interviews Dr. Bridget Long of Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, as well as other scholars, about the challenges percentage plans present. She also takes a look at the Harvard Civil Rights Project’s recently released studies on percentage plans.

Stay tuned for our continuing coverage of the Michigan case and its impact on access and equity. We want to know what you think about the upcoming case and affirmative action in general. Feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] with your comments, predictions or thoughts about the media coverage surrounding this issue. We look forward to hearing from you.


Hilary Hurd Anyaso

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