In the days leading up to the US Supreme Court’s ruling in the affirmative action cases against the University of North Carolina and Harvard, NYU News spoke to professors across the university about the legal, social, economic, and policy implications of these rulings. Their responses addressed the historical origins of affirmative action in college admissions, misconceptions about affirmative action, the role of protests in increasing diversity on campuses, and factors that universities should consider following the rulings.
What happens if the Supreme Court bans affirmative action?
“One widespread misconception is that affirmative action is a preference. Affirmative action programs do not give a preference to any student because of their race. Preference is a loaded term and not an accurate one. The law is clear that admissions programs cannot give automatic preferences or points or reserve spots for applicants of certain races. Another misconception is that affirmative action is an exception to a merit-based system. Race-conscious admissions programs are still merit-based admissions programs."
— NYU Law Professor Deborah Archer
Read the full Q&A: What happens if the Supreme Court bans affirmative action?
With Elite College Admissions in Turmoil, a Different Affirmative Action Lives On
“While the elite-based affirmative action was fought over in the courts, the lesson from the development of the community-based affirmative action is that it has to be fought over at the campuses and on the streets—and the ruling, I believe, may serve as a mobilization mechanism, whether at elite or less-selective public institutions. While racism is not going away, people will continue to struggle and mobilize for greater college access.”
— NYU Wagner Associate Professor Domingo Morel
Read the full Q&A: With Elite College Admissions in Turmoil, a Different Affirmative Action Lives On
A Ruling Against Affirmative Action in College Admissions Shouldn’t Affect Other Diversity Efforts on Campus, Researchers Say
“Colleges and universities, irrespective of the Court’s decision, should promote policies and practices that widen educational opportunity and work towards eliminating racial inequality in higher education. This means focusing on initiatives that improve campus racial climate and develop a greater sense of belonging for students of color, through academic, co-curricular, and research opportunities, among many others. These campus-based actions should be designed in a manner that promotes students’ full selves.”
— NYU Steinhardt Assistant Professor Mike Hoa Nguyen
“It’s very important to remember that the Harvard and UNC cases are about the consideration of race in admissions only—not in education programming or other efforts related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging on campus. I’m afraid that educational institutions will begin to roll back other programs and initiatives designed to support students and support student diversity, even though the cases are about admissions only, not broadly about whether race can ever be used as a way to organize educational supports or experiences.”
— NYU Steinhardt Associate Professor Lisa Stulberg
Read the full Q&A: A Ruling Against Affirmative Action in College Admissions Shouldn’t Affect Other Diversity Efforts on Campus, Researchers Say