Rumor is that the Trump Justice Department is looking into new legal challenges to affirmative action in the nation’s most selective colleges. This is not new. There have been multiple lawsuits in the last couple of decades that have challenged the practice. Some states, like California, have passed legislation to eliminate affirmative action from the admission process for state schools. Admission to elite colleges is definitely unfair, but minorities are not the primary beneficiaries of preferential treatment. Abigail Fisher, a white student who famously sued the University of Texas at Austin for race-based discrimination, was actually shown to have been bumped out of contention not by affirmative action candidates, but by other white students. In her suit, Fisher maintained that she was passed over for admission while others with worse grades were let in. But investigative journalist, Nikole Hannah-Jones, pointed out that the vast majority of those students who succeeded where Fisher failed were also Caucasian.
“It’s true that the university, for whatever reason, offered provisional admission to some students with lower test scores and grades than Fisher,” Hannah-Jones writes. “Five of those students were black or Latino. Forty-two were white.” She adds that there were “168 black and Latino students with grades as good as or better than Fisher’s who were also denied entry into the university that year.” In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled against Fisher and in favor of the University of Texas.
While affirmative action is an imperfect solution to a complicated problem, I personally think colleges should prepare students for life in the real world. In my opinion, a student body that resembles the diversity of cultures and perspectives those students are likely to encounter in their professional life adds substantial value to the college experience. That said, like most things, it’s wealthy and well-connected people who game the system. Here is a link to a good article on the subject.