The Supreme Court solidified the use of affirmative action in the University of Texas’s admission process on Thursday, prompting praise from Ohio State University President Michael Drake.
“For four decades, the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized that diversity is a vital part of the higher education experience and a legitimate pursuit for colleges and universities,” Drake said in a statement.
The case, prompting its second ruling from the Supreme Court, centered around white student Abigail Fisher, who sued after being denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin based on her race. The university guarantees admission to those in the top of their class before opening up to general enrollment — which considers race, among other factors — for other applicants. Fisher was not in the top of her class.
While the 4-3 ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas on the university’s use of race-conscious admissions standards wasn’t a blanket endorsement of all affirmative action programs, it was seen as a victory by many higher education administrators.
“In our university labs and classrooms, diversity sparks innovation, strengthens cultural understanding, amplifies creative work, broadens scholarly benefits to society and produces more competent workers and thinkers,” Drake’s statement read.
OSU’s minority enrollment for 2015 stood at 18.6 percent, a record high, according to the most recent enrollment report.
For fall 2015, UT Austin’s minority and foreign enrollment stood at 55 percent, according to school data.
While the ruling asserts the validity of affirmative action, Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged its complexities and its future in his ruling.
“The Court’s affirmance of the University’s admissions policy today does not necessarily mean the University may rely on that same policy without refinement,” Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “It is the University’s ongoing obligation to engage in constant deliberation and continued reflection regarding its admissions policies.”
While Brooklyn McDaniels, a third-year in communication and president of OSU’s Black Student Association, agreed with the ruling, she said that at OSU she’s learned diversity goes further than race.
“Within BSA we have diversity in majors, hometowns, interests,” McDaniels said, “Diversity is so much more than what people think.”
While she said she felt positively about how OSU handles diversity, McDaniels acknowledge what she saw as shortcomings, too.
Although BSA has diversity within itself, “it ends there,” she said, “There’s no mixing between clubs. Certain clubs have diversity, but it doesn’t extend beyond there.”
Like Kennedy, McDaniels offered insight into the complexity of diversity on the modern-day college campus.
“You see (the mixing) at football games or Buckeyethon,” McDaniels gave as an example, “but not in the day-to-day stuff.”