Affirmative Action and Higher Education: What is At Stake?

The Supreme Court will revisit the issue of Affirmative Action as it pertains to higher education this week. The case of  Fisher v. University of Texas goes to court on October 10th, and its outcome could have far reaching implications for the role of race in college admissions. Abigail Fisher, who is white, was rejected by the University of Texas. She alleges that her race played a role in the denial of admission. Furthermore, Ms. Fisher is challenging UT on the basis that using race in admissions is unconstitutional.

Affirmative Action is a contentious issue, with many individuals feeling either strongly for or against it. To help unpack the multitude of concerns on the issue, Polite On Society has reached out to Prof. Lewis Gordon of Temple University. Prof. Gordon writes about issues of race, philosophy, and authored the article “The Problem With Affirmative Action”  last year. Placing the forthcoming Fisher case in historical context, Gordon draws a comparison to the Bakke case of 1978:

there are parallels between Abigail Fisher and Allan Bakke: they both have more options than most black people and expect to get even more at the expense of blacks and other racial minorities.

Delving deeper into the implications of Fisher, and the opponents of Affirmative Action, Prof. Gordon highlights why the program should continue:

The additional problem with their position–and most anti-affirmative action arguments–is that they depend on a hidden premise: the erroneous view that racism no longer exists.  Although there has been much progress on racial matters by way of individual black achievement, the structural realities persist, and in some cases have worsened.   If there were no racism, affirmative action would make no sense.   Thus, part of the effort to eliminate affirmative action is a social denial of empirical reality.

As the Supreme Court looks at the case, we are certain to hear more on the issue. We would like to thank Prof. Gordon for chiming in on the issue for our readers. To learn more about his work, visit his page. Now, its time to turn over the discussion to you. At a time when Black economic gains have been destroyed by the current downturn, is this the right time to undo a program intended to level the playing field?

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