WASHINGTON — What role should race play when you or a loved one is applying to college?
In the 1960s, colleges began asking an applicant’s race to improve diversity on their campuses.
In recent years, however, it has become controversial – with some arguing that the question has unfair implications for students who are not as diverse.
On Monday, debate over the practice known as Affirmative Action will take center stage in the Supreme Court.
By recording the case, judges could ban the practice.
THE MAN BEHIND THE LAWSUIT
Meet Edward Blum, a man living in rural Maine.
For the past 30 years, he has tried to end the influence of race on everything from elections to college admissions.
In recent years, he has founded a group called Students for Fair Admissions, which alleges unfair practices regarding racial admissions on college campuses.
“We have asked the Supreme Court to end the use of racial preferences in college admissions,” Blum recently told Our Joe St. George during a Supreme Court interview.
On Monday, Blum will appear again for a hearing before the Higher Regional Court.
If he wins, private and state universities across the country could be banned from asking about future races.
“We believe that a student’s race or ethnicity should not be used to help or harm them,” Blum said.
Blum’s cases particularly involve Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.
At UNC, Bloom alleges that qualified white applicants are unfairly rejected because of their race.
At Harvard, he claims that qualified Asian students are unfairly rejected.
Both universities firmly reject this accusation.
“There are some people who say that when you win, you take away opportunities,” St. George told Blum.
“We won’t take any chances,” emphasized Blum.
AGAINST THE LAWSUIT
Many people and institutions disagree with Blum’s claim.
Apple, United Airlines, Starbucks, Uber, Google and more than 70 other companies have expressed concerns about ending affirmative action amid fears of a decline in equitable higher education in a brief submitted to the Supreme Court.
“It’s going to be incredibly problematic,” said Natasha Warikoo, a professor at Tufts University and a supporter of Affirmative Action.
Warikoo studies race and says the best way to understand the impact of ending affirmative action is through data collected in states where affirmative action was already banned.
Nine states in the US currently prohibit asking race for admission to public universities.
The University of California and the University of Michigan actually wrote to the Supreme Court this summer, saying they have struggled with diversity since they were banned from asking the question years ago.
“The number of black, Hispanic, and Native American students on this campus is steadily declining every year,” Warikoo said.
Don’t wait for months for the court’s decision.
Judges who have agreed to hear the case suggest another landmark High Court decision could be on the horizon.