Equal opportunity

Affirmative action or not, equality is critical

By TNH Editoral Staff
On April 25, 2014

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court upheld a constitutional amendment in the state of Michigan that bans affirmative action in the admissions process to the public universities in the state. Thus, the Supreme Court established that having affirmative action in admissions for college is a decision left up to the states.

For one thing, it is good to see the states gain more right to make decisions independent of the federal government. On the other hand, affirmative action - or something to the effect of it - is something that is still necessary in the admission for higher education. This can be seen by the drop in minorities enrolled in college in Michigan since the ban took effect in 2006. According to an article published in Bloomberg on Wednesday, the enrollment of black students dropped 33 percent at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor from 2006 to 2012. 

Perhaps the focus should not be on racial inequality, but rather on socioeconomic inequality. Bloomberg also pointed out that seven of 10 universities in states where affirmative action is banned were able "to maintain or increase the proportion of black and Hispanic students among their ranks by targeting socioeconomic inequality." Whether it be through affirmative action or socioeconomic standing, minorities will have greater opportunities to access higher education.

If a state votes to ban affirmative action, state universities should turn their attention to socioeconomic trends instead. Utilizing either one method or the other is necessary as the price tag on a college education continues to increase.

An education should not only be within the reach of the wealthy, regardless of race. This is not to say racism is irrelevant in the United States; to say that it is would be naïve.

Focusing on socioeconomic inequality in college admissions would not takeaway from diversity on university campuses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, "American Indians and Alaska Natives" held the highest national poverty rate from 2007 to 2011 at 27 percent. The second highest poverty rate in that time period was held by "Blacks or African Americans" with 25.8 percent. Looking at socieconomics would continue to foster a diverse body of students, not only based on race and ethnicity but on economic background as well. After all, isn't the point of this discussion to find ways to create equal opportunity a college education?

Overall, the trend of black and Hispanic students graduating from high school and enrolling in college is increasing, according to statistics from The Wall Street Journal that extend through 2012. The gap between white and minority students is closing.

New Hampshire is among the eight states that are without affirmative action, ending it in 2011. Most recently, Oklahoma ended affirmative action in 2012. 

As the college degree continues to develop into the new high school diploma in regards to the job market, assuring equal opportunity for all potential college students is critical.

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