The Supreme Court recently heard two cases concerning the college admissions process, both focused on the tentative subject of race in an application. 

On Monday, October 31, almost five hours of productive (albeit sometimes cranky) oral arguments took place in the Supreme Court. The arguments dealt with portentous cases about the admission policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). Although in the same courtroom, the two cases are not identical. As a public university, UNC is bound by  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination by race  from  institutions that receive federal money, as well as the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. However, Harvard, a private institution, is only subject to the statute. 
Both universities faced strongly-voiced accusations from their plaintiffs. Harvard was accused of discrimination against Asian Americans. Plaintiffs stated that the university was using subjective standards to gauge traits such as likability, courage, and kindness—with these standards, creating a ceiling for Asian Americans in the admissions process. And it’s true—on average, Asian

The Supreme Court recently heard two cases concerning the college admissions process, both focused on the tentative subject of race in an application. 

On Monday, October 31, almost five hours of productive (albeit sometimes cranky) oral arguments took place in the Supreme Court. The arguments dealt with portentous cases about the admission policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina (UNC). Although in the same courtroom, the two cases are not identical. As a public university, UNC is bound by  Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars discrimination by race  from  institutions that receive federal money, as well as the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. However, Harvard, a private institution, is only subject to the statute. 

Both universities faced strongly-voiced accusations from their plaintiffs. Harvard was accused of discrimination against Asian Americans. Plaintiffs stated that the university was using subjective standards to gauge traits such as likability, courage, and kindness—with these standards, creating a ceiling for Asian Americans in the admissions process. And it’s true—on average, Asian American students received lower “personal quality” ratings at early stages of the admissions process for Harvard University.

UNC faced a slightly different issue. During the case, plaintiffs accused the university for discriminating against White and Asian applicants by giving preference to Black, Hispanic, and Native American ones. However, the university responded that its admissions policies fostered educational diversity, and were lawful under long standing Supreme Court precedents.

As the case continued, some justices argued that in the future, race may cease to be an important component of the admissions process. But other, more conservative justices opposed this argument, stating that universities should consider the racial identity of their applicants to enhance the diversity in their student body. 

While I agree that it is necessary for diversity to be acknowledged in admissions, I feel that the race of a college applicant should not be at the forefront of their application, as it undermines the supposedly fair nature of college admissions. Every individual’s capacity for thought and action is what really matters; a person’s appearance and aptitude are not strictly related. Personality and performance are far more important than race, and race should not affect the evaluation of someone’s personality. 

Racism still remains deep-rooted in many parts of the world and is still prevalent in the United States. When universities like Harvard and North Carolina choose to include racial identity in their evaluation of an applicant, there is always a foreboding chance that the application may land in the hands of someone with racial prejudice—someone who is able to accept or deny the applicant with ease. 

Sources:

https://www.harvardmagazine.com/2022/10/harvard-admissions-case-supreme-court-oral-arguments

https://www.morganlewis.com/pubs/2022/11/supreme-court-hears-oral-argument-in-challenge-to-harvard-and-unc-race-conscious-admission-programs