On Tuesday of this week, the Supreme Court upheld Michigan's ban on the use
of race as a factor in admission to state colleges and universities. If you
have been following the Supreme Court's rulings over the past few years, their
decision should not surprise you and you will see other states around the
country follow in Michigan's footsteps. Although the Supreme Court was not
addressing affirmative action directly, to some their message was clear.
So what does this mean for public colleges and universities in the state of
Virginia? First we must be reminded that schools like the University of
Virginia, the College of William and Mary and Virginia State University currently
use race as a factor in their college admissions policies. For now, nothing
will change, but change may be in Virginia's future. You should also know that
many private colleges and universities in Virginia and around the country use
race, income and other affirmative action policies in the selection of their
students. And they don't do it because of mandates; they do because it is part
of their deliberate policy.
A little know fact is that race has been used at historically black colleges
and universities to award scholarships and financial aid to white students
based on race; and that is a fair and equitable policy.
So what do I think? I believe that there should always be room for colleges
and universities to have affirmative action policies. But there must be a new
discussion about what affirmative action means today and what do we want to
accomplish. The key is that there should be much discussion before a vote.