Aug 27, 2022 - Politics & Policy

California, Michigan universities argue they need affirmative action

A statue of former University of Michigan football coach Bo Schembechler stands outside of Schembechler Hall on the UM campus .

University of Michigan campus. Photo: Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

The University of Michigan and the University of California are arguing that efforts to build a diverse student body without affirmative action have not gone well, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court is set to consider the future of affirmative action this fall. The information from the University of Michigan and the University of California may play a role in that case.

Driving the news: Attorneys for the universities recently argued in amicus briefs filed to the Supreme Court that the schools struggled to create a racially diverse freshman class without affirmative action, per the New York Times.

  • “Despite persistent, vigorous and varied efforts to increase student body racial and ethnic diversity by race-neutral means, the admission and enrollment of underrepresented minority students have fallen precipitously in many of U-M’s schools and colleges," the brief from Michigan's side read.

By the numbers: The University of California, Berkeley, admitted 258 Black students and 27 Native American students for the 2021 freshman class, which was made up of 6,931 students, according to school data.

  • At the University of Michigan, 4% of the incoming freshman class for 2021 were Black students, per NYT.
  • The University of California spent more than $500,000 in outreach efforts to increase its diversity, the Times reports.

The big picture: The Supreme Court is expected to hear two cases that could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez writes.

  • Affirmative action supporters worry that the court — which has three Trump appointees — will eliminate admission policies that help Black and Hispanic students, CNN reports.

Zoom in: The conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) is arguing Harvard and the University of North Carolina discriminated against Asian American applicants.

  • Lower courts already ruled in favor of Harvard and the University of North Carolina, saying their programs used race in a limited way to create a diverse student body.
  • The Biden administration asked the Supreme Court last year to reject the challenges to the schools' policies, per Reuters.

Go deeper: Supreme Court's next term could be just as contentious

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