Affirmative Action and College Admissions

November 17, 2017 • Volume 27, Issue 41
Should racial and ethnic preferences continue?
By Tom Price


Demonstrators at the U.S. Supreme Court (Cover: Getty Images/CQ Roll Call/Bill Clark)
Demonstrators at the U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 9, 2015, protest against affirmative action, which they said discriminates against Asian-American applicants to college. The Trump administration is investigating claims that universities are unfairly selecting black and Hispanic applicants over Asian-Americans. (Cover: Getty Images/CQ Roll Call/Bill Clark)

The Supreme Court has upheld the use of race in college admissions, but affirmative action is facing new challenges. Many whites continue to oppose giving preference to minorities to compensate for discrimination and to diversify campuses, and the Trump administration says it may sue universities practicing “intentional” discrimination. Several critics question affirmative action's effectiveness, citing minorities' continued under-representation at elite universities. But affirmative action's defenders say it has helped raise minority representation on campuses, and that most universities rely on a “holistic” admissions approach that looks at applicants' public service, creativity and other attributes, as well as race. Georgetown and other schools are pursuing innovative ways to diversify their student bodies, such as admitting the descendants of slaves owned by their institutions. Meanwhile, activist Edward Blum has filed numerous suits challenging laws and policies that favor minorities over whites.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Affirmative Action
Nov. 17, 2017  Affirmative Action and College Admissions
Oct. 17, 2008  Affirmative Action Updated
Jul. 11, 2003  Race in America
Sep. 21, 2001  Affirmative Action in Undergraduate Admissions
Jan. 23, 1998  The Black Middle Class
Feb. 23, 1996  Getting Into College
Apr. 28, 1995  Rethinking Affirmative Action
May 17, 1991  Racial Quotas
Apr. 14, 1989  Is Affirmative Action Still the Answer?
Jul. 31, 1981  Affirmative Action Reconsidered
Mar. 30, 1979  Affirmative Action Under Attack
Civil Rights Movement
College Financing and Funding
Diversity Issues
Education Policy
Education Standards and Testing
Federal Courts
Powers and History of the Presidency
Student Movements
Supreme Court History and Decisions
Undergraduate and Graduate Education