Poll: Even minorities oppose affirmative action

A new survey shows that even most minorities don’t support affirmative action in the college admissions process despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the matter.

Gallup administered a public poll following the June 23 Supreme Court ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, which upheld the use of race as a factor in university admissions policies, and concludes that the general public decisively disagrees with the Supreme Court and college administrators on the matter.

[RELATED: Supreme Court upholds affirmative actions for college admissions]

According to the poll, 7-in-10 Americans think merit should be the only basis for college admissions, and 65 percent disagree with the Supreme Court decision upholding the ability of colleges to use race as a factor in admissions.

In fact, 57.1 percent of black people, 66.6 percent of white people, and 47.3 percent of Hispanics agreed that race should not be a factor at all.

Overall, the results showed strong support for the consideration of grades and standardized test scores alone in the college admissions process, and correspondingly weak support for the consideration of race, ethnicity, or gender in any sense.

Similarly, 31 percent of those surveyed supported the use of economic status as an admissions factor, while only 9 percent supported the use of race or ethnicity.

[RELATED: Affirmative action a ‘compelling government interest,’ academic groups say]

According to the Gallup results, many of those who oppose the consideration of race and ethnicity also favor “pure academic standards” that focus on grades and test scores alone.

Many affirmative action supporters, however, argue that the practice is widely misunderstood—notably Michele S. Moses, Associate Dean for Graduate Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder School of Education.

“There is misleading information about affirmative action often present in the public discussion of the issue; this, of course, affects how people perceive the policy and what it means for college admissions,” Moses told Campus Reform.

According to Moses, race is only one of the many factors considered by colleges when making admissions decisions, and to base acceptance exclusively on race would not be “proper admissions practice.”

Among the other factors that colleges consider, Moses suggested that socioeconomic status may be among the most significant.

“I believe that both socioeconomic status and race are relevant factors to consider in college admissions processes and the holistic review of applicants,” she explained. “We don’t need to make a choice between the two.”

She noted that students who attend high schools with students from more affluent communities have more educational opportunities, and receive higher standardized tests scores and grades than students from more disadvantaged communities.

She also claimed that most people don’t understand the advantages of wealth largely enjoyed by white students in the admissions process.

[RELATED: Texas A&M shows that affirmative actions isn’t necessary]

Roger Clegg, President and general counsel at the Center for Equal Opportunity, disagreed with Moses’ characterization, however, pointing out to Inside Higher Ed that “Americans have been brought up to believe that it’s a bad thing to treat people differently because of their skin color or where their ancestors came from.”

Clegg also said that while favoring athletes or children of alumni isn’t the “noblest” of all admissions practices, he agrees with the general public that it’s better to consider such factors over race.

"Discriminating against people on the basis of skin color is uniquely ugly, and I am not surprised and not bothered by the fact that more Americans should be offended by that than because applicants can throw a football well,” he opined.

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