So what now? As the Robed Ones prepare to make Bakke go the way of the dodo, schools are preemptively scrambling to determine how to reap the benefits of a diverse student body without running afoul of what the Thomas C… I mean, the Roberts Court deems constitutional.
In 1998, the year a voter-approved measure barring the use of race-conscious admissions policies for public colleges and universities in California took effect, the percentage of Black, Hispanic and Native American students admitted at two of the state’s elite public schools plummeted by more than 50%.
Will California’s past be the rest of the nation’s academic future? One head of admissions thinks we have an obligation to make sure that’s not the case:
“We cannot afford as a nation to regress on our goals to create an educated and equitable society,” said Seth Allen, head of admissions at Pomona College in California. “So it’s incumbent on higher education to figure out how to work collectively together to ensure that we’re not furthering the enrollment gap among different groups of students.”
The wild part is that several institutes have already attempted to get at the intended results by tweaking the formula. The experiments, especially those conducted by the schools subject to the ongoing trial, haven’t been cheap either:
In briefs filed with the Supreme Court, the University of California and the University of Michigan – top public school systems from states that have outlawed race-conscious admissions – said they have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on alternative programs intended to improve diversity, but that those efforts have fallen far short of goals.
That said, there are still options others are planning to pursue:
Colonel Arthur Primas Jr., the U.S. Air Force Academy’s admissions director, said his racially diverse recruiting team will continue to visit schools in U.S. congressional districts with heavy concentrations of minorities and will try to encourage more students to seek nominations to the academy from their local members of Congress.
Administrators at schools located in or near major cities, including Pomona College near Los Angeles and Sarah Lawrence College in New York, said they would hope to draw more students from racially diverse local high schools and take more transfer students from local community colleges.
Yvonne Berumen, vice president of admissions at Pitzer College in California, said her team might run essay workshops at high schools in those targeted zip codes – postal regions – in hopes of generating applications.
It remains unclear how effective these strategies will be at addressing the enrollment gap. Maybe all of this worry is for naught — perhaps the Court will decide to leave affirmative action as it is and reaffirm Bakke?
Just kidding. That’s not the way things seem to be trending for our country.
Chris Williams became a social media manager and assistant editor for Above the Law in June 2021. Prior to joining the staff, he moonlighted as a minor Memelord™ in the Facebook group Law School Memes for Edgy T14s. He endured Missouri long enough to graduate from Washington University in St. Louis School of Law. He is a former boatbuilder who cannot swim, a published author on critical race theory, philosophy, and humor, and has a love for cycling that occasionally annoys his peers. You can reach him by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and by tweet at @WritesForRent.