Survey Shows Strong Public Support for Affirmative Action, Diversity

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Noteworthy News: Survey Shows Strong Public Support For Affirmative Action, Diversity

WASHINGTON

A new survey shows that two-thirds of Americans support affirmative action and recognize the value of diversity on college and university campuses. The Americans for Fair Chance (AFC), a consortium of six of America's leading civil rights legal organizations released the polling results last month to coincide with the national release of a new book by the Civil Rights Project at Harvard University. The book, Diversity Challenged: Evidence on the Impact of Affirmative Action, argues that when colleges and universities employ policies to create more racially and ethnically diverse student bodies, all students benefit from broader educational experiences and better preparations for careers in multiracial democracy.

"Affirmative action programs are at an important crossroads, and it is critically important that we in the civil rights community join forces to emphasize the value of diversity in our communities," says Georgina Verdugo, AFC executive director.

The public opinion polling on behalf of AFC found that 64 percent of Americans support overall affirmative action for women and minorities. The survey also looked specifically at college admissions -- one of the fiercest legal battlegrounds for affirmative action and the focus of Diversity Challenged. The poll found that 66 percent of Americans agree that college admissions criteria should include students' entire backgrounds as well as their tests and grades.

Diversity Challenged, edited by Gary Orfield, co-director of the Civil Rights Project, forecasts that affirmative action's legal and political future may turn on a single question -- whether the educational value of diversity is sufficiently compelling to justify consideration of race as a factor in admissions decisions at colleges and universities. …