Ep. 6 - Is it harder for white students to get into college?
Affirmative action has been around for almost 60 years, beginning with President John F. Kennedy in 1961, issuing Executive Order 10925, which looked to ensure government contractors, "take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin." Affirmative action seems to have grown more controversial recently due to the Trump Administration’s constant criticism of the practice.
As schools continue to increase diversity on their campuses through practicing affirmative action, are they making it more difficult for white students to get into those same institutions?
Enter, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard University, a lawsuit sparked by claims that the university discriminates against Asian-American applicants in its admissions process. According to Harvard’s student-run newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, SFFA alleges that the university, “uses racial ‘quotas’ and ‘racial balancing’ in the undergraduate admissions process, which, SFFA argues, disadvantages Asian-American applicants and violates Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.”
It is worth noting that Harvard University was actually one of the first educational institutions to implement an affirmative action program, created in the 1970s by Walter J. Leonard, an administrator at Harvard. The Harvard program became a model for other colleges and universities around the country.
However, the Harvard Plan (as it has been referred to) has also been criticized as acting to implement racial or ethnic quotas in the admissions process. The plan was allegedly created for the purpose of limiting the number of overrepresented, high-scoring Jewish students in the 1920s, to tackle what then-President Abbott Lawrence Lowell called Harvard’s, “Jewish problem.”
Now, SFFA is alleging that Harvard’s current admissions process is a new version of the Harvard Plan, but instead of Jewish students being discriminated against, it is now Asian-American students.