The End To Affirmative Action: A Blessing Or A Curse?

Affirmative action is the practice or policy favoring individuals belonging to groups regarded as disadvantaged or subject to discrimination. Targeted employment/employment support programs used in the workplace are examples of affirmative action. Additionally, the college admissions process uses affirmative action. Harvard, Yale, and Rice University (among many others) are notable colleges that began using affirmative action to ensure people from different backgrounds and environments could have some of the same opportunities. Let’s look at affirmative action in California, the recent Supreme Court ruling, and possible solutions that benefit people of all races and backgrounds.

Many states banned the use of affirmative action even before the affirmative action ruling in the Supreme Court, and one of those states is the state of California. California barred affirmative action 25 years ago, in 1998. Initially, admissions focused on academic achievements such as a high GPA, SAT/ACT score, etc. However, colleges began realizing that there was a significant gap between the number of students getting accepted into colleges and the racial and class differences. They understood that the stability of one’s household and their ability to focus on work directly correlated with getting higher test scores and getting into ‘elite’ colleges. For example, in the 1970s, UC Berkeley looked at GPA and test scores when deciding if applicants would be accepted and found that less than 5% of those students were Hispanic or African American. This shocking statistic correlated with the understanding that low-income students had less access to opportunities that would’ve allowed them to showcase their intellect. So, they began using affirmative action by setting aside a specific percentage of the students admitted each year as minorities/low-income students. Setting a certain percentage aside for minorities increased diversity and allowed many underprivileged students to get an education and get themselves out of that poverty.

People saw this as an advantage for poverty-stricken minority groups, as they only needed to get average grades to get accepted into the same colleges that White or Asian people needed excellent stats for. Allan Bakke is a white male that applied and was denied admission from UC Davis Medical School in the 1970s. However, he soon realized that his stats were better than others accepted into UC Davis Med School. The difference was that they were part of the minority group while Bakke wasn’t. He sued based on discrimination and won in the Supreme Court Case of ‘Bakke v. California.’ The Supreme Court justices ruled in Bakke’s favor stating that while considering race is acceptable while trying to diversify a student body, treating it like a quota can cause bias while sorting through the applicants. Many court cases followed this one, arguing for and against affirmative action.

Fast forward to the present day, the Supreme Court has struck down the use of affirmative action in colleges across the country during the discrimination cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina. SFFA (Students for Fair Admissions), a majority Asian American organization, filed lawsuits against UNC and Harvard. Their main argument was that Asian American students specifically were put at a disadvantage because of their race and that they were less likely to be accepted into elite schools because they attempted more diversification and the understanding that Asian Americans are held to a higher standard when it comes to extracurriculars, test scores, GPA, essays, etc. So, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the SFFA and effectively banned the use of race when determining if an applicant should be accepted or rejected. While this is a victory for some, it is a cause for concern for others. Many minority/low-income applicants are now in a situation where it is increasingly difficult to showcase their skills and get into notable colleges. However, one solution can help all groups in this dilemma. 

One solution that would ultimately help even the playing field between all racial groups is universally improving education in schools so that all students, regardless of income or where their live, can have the same educational opportunities. Improving education would give students access to the same study materials and ultimately prevent minority/low-income students from being hindered by extraneous circumstances. While this is a challenging feat, it would prevent colleges from losing their diversity while ensuring that students who have worked hard and deserve specific opportunities will receive them. In conclusion, the ban on affirmative action is a victory for some and a loss for others, and changes to the education system will help close the gaps between races while maintaining a fair and equitable college admissions system.

Works Cited

“Affirmative Action Frequently Asked Questions.” DOL, 28 Oct. 2022,,%2C%20sex%2C%20sexual%20orientation%2C%20gender.

“Affirmative Action vs. Race-Neutral Admissions: A Case Study | WSJ.” YouTube, 29 June 2023,

“How Asian Americans Became the Center of the Affirmative Action Debate.” YouTube, 21 May 2022,