The Restoration of Affirmative Action

19/06/20203 minute read
The Restoration of Affirmative Action

In the 1970s, university campuses prioritized increasing Black and African-American enrollment in their student body, in addition to their faculty.

In the 1970s, US universities had an increased number in applications and enrollment of Black and African-American students, as well as an increased number of Black and African-American staff and faculty.

In 1995, in an attempt to combat reverse discrimination in university admissions, affirmative action was outlawed at public universities.

Since the ban in 1995, we’ve seen a drastic change in the diversity of student bodies across campuses in the United States. Inside Higher Ed states, “The states that have banned affirmative action have seen the share of underrepresented minority students admitted to and enrolling in public universities go down. The trends are especially notable in that demographic trends have added to the supply of underrepresented minority students in the states.”

This week, the University of California regents have unanimously decided to support the restoration of affirmative action.

What is Affirmative Action?

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, affirmative action “means positive steps taken to increase the representation of women and minorities in areas of employment, education, and culture from which they have been historically excluded. When those steps involve preferential selection—selection on the basis of race, gender, or ethnicity—affirmative action generates intense controversy.”

Why are the UC’s Supporting the Restoration Affirmative Action?

Since affirmative action was reversed over 20 years ago, universities have seen a decrease in representation of underrepresented groups. In an attempt to increase the number of underrepresented students, the UC system guaranteed admissions to students who ranked in the top 4% of their high school class, regardless of their school district.

Additionally, the UC system recently announced that they would remove testing requirements for the SAT and ACT (read more here) in order to remove a barrier to admission for disadvantaged students.

While there has been some progress in regards to representation, it has not been nearly sufficient. John A. Perez, UC Board Chairman, stated in the LA Times that, “If we are going to be serious about creating a university that truly serves the public interest, we cannot be silent. We cannot be neutral. We must express ourselves in what we think [is] the best future for our university and our state.”

What Does This Mean for Admissions

While the UC regents have voted to restore affirmative action, this measure (Proposition 209) will still need to be ratified by the Senate on June 25th and voted upon on the statewide ballot on November 3rd.

If the proposition passes, the UC and California State Universities will work on implementing affirmative action into not only admissions but also hiring practices.