Document Type



This article also appears in the Journal of Student Affairs Research and Practice published by NASPA - Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education:


Affirmative action as a policy to solve past racism has existed since the civil rights movement in the mid-twentieth century. Since its inception there has been controversy as to whether affirmative action can stand legal scrutiny. If it can, then under what circumstances and for what programs may it be used? Since the "Bakke" case in 1978, a variety of lower federal courts have sought to determine whether diversity is a compelling state interest in higher education admissions and other related programs, or whether race may even be used as a factor in admissions. The recent Grutter and Gratz cases have helped to clarify those issues, but they have left many questions to be answered by policy makers and the courts. Since the Grutter and Gratz decisions, new challenges have been raised to affirmative action. This article describes the history of affirmative action, describes the controversies and current status of the law with regard to public postsecondary institutions admissions policies, and raises several issues about which admissions and student affairs professionals in general should be concerned.



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