Supreme Court Upholds Affirmative Action: Higher Ed Groups Cheer Decision. (Update)

Article excerpt

In a ruling that limits, but does not ban, the consideration of race in the admissions decisions, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the University of Michigan's use of race as a factor in its taw school admissions, but said a point system that gave a boost to minority applicants in undergraduate admissions was unconstitutional.

Higher education groups cheered the ruling as a victory for affirmative action supporters.

"The court's rulings affirm that colleges and universities may take race into account in order to achieve diversity on our campuses," said David L. Warren, president of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (www.naicu.edu). "This is consistent with the standard established in the Bakke decision, and upholds the view advocated by NAICU and more than 50 other higher education associations in our amicus brief to the court."

Writing on behalf of a coalition of 30 higher ed organizations, John Noonan, chair of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (www.aacu.orq) board of directors, said the court's decision paved the way to increasing access to college for under-represented groups. "The AACU believes deeply that multiracial, multicultural classrooms provide faculty the best environment for teaching students what it means to be human in a troubled and complex world. We are delighted that both court decisions recognize diversity on campus as a compelling state interest," he wrote.

U Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman called the ruling a "tremendous victory" for all of higher education. Coleman said the school would continue its goat of achieving a diverse student population. "The court has provided two important signals," she said. "The first is a green light to pursue diversity in the college classroom. The second is a road map to get us there. We will modify our undergraduate system to comply with [the court's] ruling, but make no mistake: We will find the route that continues our commitment to a richly diverse student body."

Coleman said the new undergraduate policy will be more in line with that of the law school, and predicted the changes would be in effect by fall.

Although the court struck down the university's controversial point system in the undergraduate school's admissions, affirmative action supporters note that the system was unique to U Michigan. …