What’s appearing to be the most controversial U.S. Supreme Court case of this term took place this Wednesday, October 10. Are affirmative action programs beneficial or downright unlawful? Opponents of affirmative action claim that public universities are actively practicing illegal discrimination when considering race as a factor for admission. In 2003, the Supreme Court said that affirmative action may prove necessary for the next quarter of a century to guarantee that university classrooms would reflect the vast racial diversity of the United States. Wednesday, the court questioned the racial preferences used by the University of Texas to achieve student diversity in their college admission processes and are currently reconsidering that 2003 decision.
William G. Bowen & Derek Bok’s 2000 book The Shape of the River: Long-Term Consequences of Considering Race in College and University Admissions brings a wealth of empirical evidence to bear on how race-sensitive admissions policies actually work and clearly defines the effects they have had on over 45,000 students of different races. Similarly, Thomas J. Espenshade & Alexandria Walton Radford’s No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life pulls back the curtain on the selective college experience and takes a rigorous and comprehensive look at how race and social class impact each stage—from application and admission, to enrollment and student life on campus.