By David Erdely
After the U.S. Supreme Court’s controversial 6-2 ruling in favor of Michigan’s ban on affirmative action in college admissions, students here at Rutgers wonder what that means for colleges across the country.
The ruling issued on April 22nd says the people of any state, can vote to amend their state’s constitution to ban affirmative action and that the U.S. Constitution does not protect it. Currently there are only eight states that have amended their constitutions to ban affirmative action.
With affirmative action still legal in New Jersey that begs the question: Do schools really base admissions off of race? Former Provost of Rutgers Newark (1982-2002), Dr. Norman Samuels said “the criteria differ from school to school (Law, Arts and Sciences, etc.), so I cannot describe with precision our current practices. I can say; nevertheless, that for many years, schools at Rutgers Newark have included race as one consideration among others in selecting students for their entering classes.”
Whether or not this practice continues at Rutgers University is uncertain.
Rutgers Newark Chancellor Nancy Cantor said, “many universities for many years have done a multi-faceted review of applications in which no single factor dominates. This is what Rutgers University–Newark does. It’s the combination of factors that gives us the best chance to get real insight into student excellence.”
In essence race is not a sole factor but one of many in determining who is admitted to Rutgers. Does it make a difference? Is this still affirmative action?
Affirmative action has been a controversial subject all across the country with both, people who strongly support and oppose it. People have made the argument that affirmative action is unfair towards highly qualified Caucasian students with high marks and have lost admission to other minority students.
Dr. Samuels sees it a little differently: “I personally support affirmative action in college admissions for two main reasons, one moral and the other educational. In light of this country’s long history of discriminating against people of color; we have a moral obligation to rectify the balance by facilitating access so that the lives of individuals and their communities will benefit from a college education. Affirmative action also helps us create a richer educational environment for all our students, whose engagement at Rutgers Newark with people of many racial/national/religious backgrounds helps to equip them to enter today’s multi-racial global economy. While it can be argued that affirmative action should be phased out once the racial divide in America has been closed, the educational value will become even more important over the coming decades.”