WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court decision that the consideration of race in college admissions was unconstitutional will change the way colleges across the country and Minnesota consider applicants.
On Monday, the justices heard arguments in two cases challenging the inclusion of race in application processes at Harvard and University of North Carolina. Many universities, including elite universities such as Harvard and Yale, believe that these programs will be deemed unconstitutional if the conservative-leaning court rules against them.
In its application process, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities considers race and ethnicity.
span style=”font weight: 400 To achieve our goal of enrolling academically-prepared students from diverse backgrounds at the Twin Cities campus, the Office of Undergraduate Education stated in a written statement. “Diversity is broadened to include a variety of factors such as economic background, geographical origin, age and gender identity and expression, religious beliefs, talents and abilities span>
According to the university, “Regardless how the case is decided,”
Diversity is not limited to the application process. The University of Minnesota’s Morris campus, for example, is diverse because it was built on the site of an old boarding school for Native American kids. This agreement was made when the property was handed to the state in 1909.
Harvard’s brief states that about 40% of American universities, and more elite universities, consider race during admissions.
The Minnesota State system, which includes 26 community colleges and seven universities, does not consider race when determining applicants.
span style=”font weight: 400 We don’t think that a court ruling on this matter will have any effect on our admissions decisions because the colleges and universities in Minnesota State don’t use race as a criterion of admission,” Doug Anderson, a Minnesota State spokesperson said. “We are proud to be the most diverse higher education institution in Minnesota, as well as being a beacon for opportunity for families from all socio-economic backgrounds span>
The Minnesota State system has 150,151 students this fall. 63% of them are white, 12% Black, 7% Latino, and 6% Asian.
Six conservative justices of the Supreme Court, who make up the majority of the nine-member court’s nine members, were skeptical about the value and importance for educational diversity.
Justice Clarence Thomas said, “I have heard diversity a lot and don’t know what it means.”
He said that he had heard arguments similar to those made by lawyers at universities to defend segregation.
Students for Fair Admissions was behind the cases that the justices heard Monday. They had challenged Harvard’s admissions policies. Students for Fair Admissions is a conservative activist and stockbroker Edward Blum who founded the group. It is dedicated to “defending the right of racial equality to college admissions”.
Students for Fair Admissions asks the Supreme Court to reverse a 2003 ruling, grutter v. Bollinger . This decision stated that colleges and universities may consider race when determining admissions.
Grutter’s challenge argues that federal civil rights laws and the U.S. Constitution prohibit any consideration of race in college admissions. According to them, the 1954 landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling, which shook down racial segregation within public schools, ruled that race should not be considered in college admissions.
The University of North Carolina and Harvard lawyers argued that Grutter’s decision would have profound consequences beyond university admissions. It would affect affirmative action policies in U.S. companies, the military and other areas.
Eliminating race from college admissions would have “profound implications” for “the nation we are and the nation we aspire too be,” stated Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar in Harvard case arguments.
The attorneys for Harvard and University of North Carolina were pressed by conservative justices to explain when affirmative-action programs would be no longer needed on campuses.
Other Minnesota colleges also weigh in
There were dozens of amicus (or “friends” of the court) briefs that supported either side. One was from the Biden administration to support the Harvard case.
A number of smaller Minnesota Colleges joined the friend of court brief by Amherst to support affirmative action policies for enrollment. Georgetown University supported by many Catholic colleges, and the University of St. Thomas joined in with a brief supporting them.
The Catholic schools stated that they “respectfully present this brief to provide Court with their unique perspective as a reason both their academic-religious missions require discretion to take into account applicants’ racial identity alongside a range of other factors in admissions decisions.”
Numerous members of Congress, including Reps. Ilhan Olam, D-5th District and Betty McCollum (D-4th District), filed amicus briefs in support of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
The briefing stated that there had been a “resegregation of K-12 schools” since Grutter nearly 20 years ago. This has resulted in achievement gaps between minority and white students that have affected their ability to enroll at the college of their choosing
span style=”font weight: 400 Without the ability to consider race the challenges that UNC and Harvard face when creating diverse student bodies will be even more severe and their First Amendment rights to foster diversity on campus will be undercut,” the brief stated.
Monday’s case before the justices is the latest in a series of challenges to college affirmative actions policies. It dates back to the 1978 case University of California.
Allan Bakke was in his 30s when he applied for the University of California-Davis’ medical school. The school denied him admission, claiming that its decision to remove a number of seats from minority students was discriminatory against him as a white male.
Bakke was affirmed by the Supreme Court, but it ruled that the inclusion of race in admissions is constitutional if it is part of overall applicant evaluation.
Bakke received his degree from the University of California, Davis in 1982. He then became an anesthesiologist in the Mayo Clinic in Rochester.