Corporations struggling to develop a qualified pipeline of Black and Latino talent soon may face additional challenges in reaching their diversity and recruitment goals. It all depends on how the Supreme Court rules in the Fisher v. University of Texas case.
The lawsuit before the court on Wednesday could result in the reversal of the college's affirmative-action admissions policies—and potentially deem all instances of race-based criterion in higher-education admissions "unconstitutional." This would overturn the landmark Grutter v. Bollinger decision in 2003, which upheld the use of race as one of multiple factors when determining acceptance.
If Fisher Wins & Affirmative Action Ends …
Educational and civic leaders are "very concerned that a [negative] decision will impact any and all incoming students from high school or transfers," said Ben Reese, president of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE). "We are looking for an admissions system that is inclusive of all the qualities that students bring, including race, not stunting the growth of community colleges and four-year schools and building an appropriate workforce."
Collateral consequences of a Fisher win would be a narrowing of Black and Latino admissions to four-year colleges only, which would limit community-college transfers and increase pressure on smaller, two-year schools that already are strained and turning students away because of limited budgets, according to executives representing nine higher education associations.
These include: The American Association for Affirmative Action, American Council on Education, American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Association of American Medical Colleges, College and University Professional Association for Human Resources, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education, National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education and NADOHE.
"Too much is at stake. We need to build truly inclusive learning environments and can't afford to go backward at this point," they said.
Abigail Fisher, a white high-school student, filed the lawsuit in 2008 after she was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin, which she claims was unequal treatment because of reverse discrimination and, therefore, a violation of the14th Amendment. Project on Fair Representation, a legal-defense foundation, is representing Fisher. Watch this organization's video on the case below.
Learn more about the case and affirmative action by watching the video above, then read these articles: