Recent Supreme Court decision to ban Affirmative Action sparks discussion about Equity in College Admissions.
BY VIVIANA SMITH, NEWS EDITOR
Historic decisions have recently been made by the U.S. Supreme Court. From the Overturning of Roe v. Wade to the rejection of Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan, notable rulings have sparked national debate.
In their most recent decision, the Supreme Court struck down Affirmative Action, banning public and private colleges from race-based admission programs.
According to NPR, six out of the nine justices invalidated the admissions programs of Harvard and the University of North Carolina due to their use of race-conscious admission practices.
According to AP News, the court’s decision invalidated the admissions process of the nation’s oldest private and public colleges. The decision overturned admissions cases that date back 45 years.
The ban on Affirmative Action has sparked conversations on university and college campuses nationwide.
While universities previously practiced Affirmative Action and are heavily impacted by the ban, Mason has claimed their race-neutral and inclusive admissions process prior to the Supreme Court’s decision.
According to Mason’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Equal Employment Opportunity and Affirmative Action Statement of Policy, “It is the policy of George Mason University not to discriminate or allow the harassment of employees or applicants on the basis of sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, race, color, religious creed, national origin, physical or mental disability, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.”
Following the ban of Affirmative Action, University President Gregory Washington released a statement reiterating Mason’s policy regarding Affirmative Action.
Since 2007, Mason admissions have remained test-optional and race-neutral. According to President Washington’s statement, prospective students are evaluated by their high school accolades, including academic performance, extracurriculars, and personal essays.
“Mason has long embraced an inclusive admissions policy that offers everyone who is academically prepared for the rigors of study at this top-ranked research university the opportunity to pursue the life of their choice,” said President Washington.
The George Mason Student Government released a statement addressing the Affirmative Action ban and standing with the admissions practices at Mason.
“We affirm that equality of opportunity cannot exist without equity of access,” said the organization’s leadership. “Higher education institutions have the ability and moral obligation to empower generations of historically marginalized communities.”
Various student-led political groups from Mason have also spoken out about what this decision means for the future of Mason.
Sophomore Ali Motamedi, 1st Vice Chair of College Republicans at GMU, explains that the elimination of race-based admissions allows an equal opportunity for current and prospective Mason students to attend.
“With regards to the University’s emphasis on diversity, we believe that such artificial propping of racial and ethnic ‘diversity’ serves no purpose but to undermine meritocracy in the admissions process,” said Motamedi.
Junior John Dressel, Vice President of Democrats at Mason, addresses the impacts the decision has on prospective college students nationwide.
“Affirmative Action was put into place to ensure that individuals from these groups would receive a fair and equitable opportunity in the application process,” said Dressel. “A negative generational effect will be felt without race-conscious admissions at higher institutions.”
Mason has been adamant about their race-neutral decision making prior to this ruling.
“Thankfully Mason is an incredibly diverse university and it has promised to move forward with that trend,” said Dressel.
Following the ban on race-based decision making in the admissions process, the review of legacy admissions has become a topic of conversation amongst Americans.
U.S. News describes legacy admissions as a “a boost in a prospective student’s odds of admission to a college” due to a student’s connection to an alumni.
The practice of legacy admissions has primarily been upheld in selective higher institutions. The recent ruling has brought more scrutiny to the practice of legacy admissions according to individual claims from U.S. News, “The system favors more privileged applicants and decreases diversity on campus,” they said.
“Legacy admissions pander to families with generational advantages,” said Dressel. “With no end to legacy admissions in sight there will be an even bigger tilt in favor of those with unfair advantages.”
Motamedi states that legacy admissions systems “have nothing to do with the incredibly dubious racial quota system imposed on universities as a consequence of Affirmative Action.”
In addition to Mason’s race-neutral admissions process, the use of a legacy admissions system is not a common practice at Mason.
According to a statement by Mason, “When walking across one of our campuses, the rich diversity everyone sees is not artificially curated by an admissions process primarily defined by keeping students out. It is attributable to our historic recognition that limitations of commonly accepted measures, like problematic standardized test scores or legacy affiliation, compel us to take a broader view of student potential.”
Though the ban on Affirmative Action does not call for any changes to Mason’s admissions process, as the U.S. Supreme Court makes more decisions about collegiate life, more conversations will be held surrounding the future of Mason and universities nationwide.