Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard vocal arguments for the case of Fisher v. University of Texas which, if overturned, would make affirmative action unconstitutional in public university admissions policies.
In 2008, Abigail Fisher sued the University of Texas after claiming that her rejection from the school was a result of the university’s policy to use ethnicity as a determining admittance factor. In August, officials from the University of California sent an amicus brief to the Supreme Court detailing the hardships of maintaining optimal diversity levels without the help of affirmative action.
According to UC Office of the President spokesperson Dianne Klein, the alternative methods utilized by the UC system to promote diversity have had mixed reviews.
“Since the passage of Proposition 209 which banned consideration of race or ethnicity in admissions … we have implemented policies that are what we call race-neutral that we were hopeful would be able to increase the diversity of our student body,” Klein said. “At our more selective campuses such as UCLA and Berkeley, we are falling far short of our goals of increasing this critical mass of diversity. We are bound by the law in California, which is Proposition 209, and actually, regardless of what the Supreme Court decides in the Fisher case … we will not be able to use race or ethnicity in admissions.”
Former assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson, the democratic candidate running for 19th District State Senate, said giving every student a fair chance should be the UC’s primary concern.
“I think the University of California has made a very concerted effort to try to be colorblind to the process to find the best students,” Jackson said. “But we also acknowledge that there are some extraordinary students who have started off slightly behind the starting line and that they are young people with extraordinary talent and promise who deserve that chance to succeed. The promise of our university system has always been that students who work hard and do well should … be given an opportunity.”
According to UCSB College Republicans President Christopher Babadjanian and Standing Vice President Alice Gilbert, the court ruling will be hard to predict, especially after Associate Justice Elena Kagan’s recusal from the case due her past involvement as solicitor general. However, the CR executives said affirmative action is an unfair policy and should be eliminated.
“Affirmative action in college admissions is unconstitutional because it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment,” Babadjanian and Gilbert said in a joint email. “While it does help some minority students get accepted to universities, it gives them an unfair advantage. As a country we are trying to move beyond judging people based on sex and race … it is still discrimination, which is not advantageous to anyone.”
The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision in mid-December before the current term ends.