By Julie Ajinkya | February 23, 2012
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Washington, D.C.—This week, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case, Fisher v. The University of Texas, challenging the future of race-conscious admissions at our country’s colleges and universities. If the Court bars the use of race in admissions decisions, years of hard work by civil rights activists in the higher education field who fought to make college campuses more integrated, diverse, and just will be threatened.
Conservatives hope that this case will overturn the Court’s 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger ruling that allowed schools to use race as one of the factors in achieving racial diversity in their institutions. The Fisher case claims that the current admissions policy in Texas, which was explicitly formed after the 2003 ruling, is an unconstitutional form of “blatant racial balancing.” But such an interpretation of the role of race in admissions reveals a gross misunderstanding of the 2003 Supreme Court ruling and the role of diversity in higher education.
Julie Ajinkya, Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress, emphasized the high importance that measures like affirmative action play in helping hone the country’s diversity by saying, "Educating our diverse population will make our nation stronger and give us a global competitive advantage."
As the Supreme Court is expected to hear Fisher v. The University of Texas, close to the November presidential election, we cannot afford to let affirmative action become another casualty of race-baiting, dog-whistle politics. As our country becomes more diverse, it is absolutely crucial that our institutions of higher education reflect this diversity. Our growing communities of color are comprised of our future leaders, workers, taxpayers, homebuyers, and voters, but, more importantly, both our white and nonwhite youth need to be exposed to diversity in education to learn how to effectively compete in an increasingly global economy.
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Julie Ajinkya is a Policy Analyst for Progress 2050 at American Progress.