Should Colleges Use Racial Preferences in Admissions?

Background

Even though discrimination based on race is technically illegal in the US, many people of color still face the effects of centuries of systemic racism. Universities like Harvard have implemented affirmative action programs to accept more Black, Hispanic, and Native American students. Critics of this practice, such as the plaintiffs of Students For Fair Admissions vs. Harvard, argue that these practices unfairly discriminate against Asian Americans. A federal appeals court recently ruled in favor of Harvard’s policies, but the decision may be appealed again and heard by the Supreme Court.

Discussion Questions

1. How, if at all, should competitive colleges try to address systemic racism? What are the limits of their responsibilities?

2. Is affirmative action consistent with the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protections Clause?

3. To what extent are Asian-Americans unfairly harmed by affirmative action policies?

4. Overall, do affirmative action programs end up helping or hurting minority groups? Support your answer with evidence.

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