With the Supreme Court reviewing its decision outlining the constitutionality of affirmative action in university and college admission programs, changes in current admission policies at universities and colleges nationwide may occur.
The court will rule on the legality of the University of Michigan and its school of law admissions policy, which uses ethnicity as a factor in an applicant’s consideration.
With a ruling expected no later than June of this year this policy could be declared unconstitutional.
“The impact on CSU from the (Michigan) case would depend on what the court rules on,” said Dana Hyatt, director of the Office of Equal Opportunity at CSU. “If the court rules that (public higher education) can never use race as a factor, then (CSU) would need to revisit its admission policies,” adding “it (wouldn’t) be easy for any institution to do.”
Gaining admission into CSU is currently based around an admissions index.
“Students need to have a certain academic profile to be admitted (into CSU),” said Tillie Trujillo, director of operations for CSU Admissions.
Trujillo says however, that there are a number of students each year who are admitted into CSU but don’t fall into that index. A committee convenes once a month to look at other factors not considered in the index, and reviews these borderline cases.
“Academics is crucial, it has to be, but other important issues have to be looked at,” Trujillo said.
Ethnicity is one of those important issues at CSU, according to Joan Ringel, spokesperson for the Colorado Commission on Higher Education.
“High school grade point, class rank, standardized test scores and essay are what make up the index score at CSU,” Ringel said, adding “if (a student) falls into that window (of being borderline) other aspects are considered.”
At CSU, some of the other factors considered include interviews, geographical location, in-state residency, talents and ethnicity, Ringel said.
Depending on how the court finds however, Colorado’s higher education institutions might not see much affect.
“Because Colorado does not allow quotas, my sense is the Michigan case will not be all that dramatic here,” said Ringel.
“Given (Colorado’s) system of the index and the window (for borderline cases), the ruling should not be a problem for Colorado. “
For Rashaad Gaillard, an African-American student here at CSU, the question of affirmative action isn’t so easy to answer.
“When [affirmative action] first started, it looked good,” said Gaillard, a sophomore computer information systems and finance major, “but now it has become a label for minorities and women.”
“I have had people ask me if I (had an easier path to college) than them,” Gaillard said. “(The label) limits us and our achievements.”
That isn’t a shared view among all people though. Jose Soto, the second vice president of the American Association for Affirmative Action thinks differently.
Soto believes that if the court finds affirmative action in higher education admissions to be unconstitutional, many harms would be done.
“(If found unconstitutional) universities and colleges will move away from affirmative action, resulting in fewer students of color finding themselves with opportunity,” Soto said.
It’s the underrepresented portion of minorities and women in higher education systems that need to be concentrated on, Soto said.
“People want to focus on representation (of minorities) in the academies, not under-representation,” Soto said. “Affirmative action accomplishes exactly that.”
Until the court rules however, the office of admissions at CSU is going to continue on its same path.
“We have spent a lot of time on recruitment (to get diversity),” Trujillo said.
Adding that CSU’s goal for recruitment is to “stay on top of that by recruiting and identifying students who make up the face of the state and nation.”