Students react to SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action, UW system says it will abide by the law

Affirmative Action Ruling
Published: Jun. 29, 2023 at 6:30 PM CDT

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - The Supreme Court has ruled against affirmative action in college and university admissions, something many campuses relied on to ensure a diverse student population.

The majority vote from the justices overturns the admissions policies many universities and colleges have used for decades, saying it’s unconstitutional to consider race as a determining factor in college admissions.

It will now be up to individual schools to create and implement policies that will boost diversity through other race-neutral ways.

A decision many students are worried will close doors of opportunity and said they feel is a direct attack on diversity on campuses.

“This is a really disappointing decision not only for me but for every student on this campus and any student who is planning on applying to college in the future. I think this is a huge step back for being able to repair a lot of the structural inequalities that have existed for minority students across the country,” Reyna Patel, UNC Chapel Hill student, said.

“It’s really just about equity and providing an equal standing for students with minority backgrounds. and obviously without that kind of, without that kind of support from affirmative action, we stand to lose a lot of diversity on our campuses,” Adela Zhang, UNC Chapel Hill student, said.

Senator Tammy Baldwin said she’s also disappointed in the higher court’s ruling.

“I really think we all benefit from having diversity in all aspects of our lives. For the students who are going it’s a deprivation for them too,” Baldwin said.

Right now the UW System said it’s reviewing the decision to see what, if any, impact it may have on UW campuses.

Mark Pitsch, UW System director of media relations, said in a statement to WEAU in part,

“Like others across the country, we will assess next steps surrounding this issue and abide by the law,” Pitsch said.

Some students fear that enrollment numbers for minority students could drop significantly without affirmative action in place.

“I think a lot of students are just not going to be able to get the opportunities that should rightfully be available to them. There’s a lot of really talented, really amazing students that have had to face a lot of barriers that are not their fault and Affirmative Action was one of the only educational policies that was out to be able to start to even the playing field for a lot these structurally oppressed minority students,” Patel said.

“We always talk about how affirmative action uplifts our communities and encourages our communities to dream about attending our colleges. and now i think that it’s going to be a much tougher time,” Augustin Leon Saenz, Harvard student, said.

The court did leave the door open for universities to consider things like student essays discussing the impact of race on their lives, saying “ long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability...”