Affirmative action on college campus

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Affirmative actions has impact on University of Denver’s admissions process. [Photographed by Angel Gonzalez]

Affirmative action policies have made news headlines for decades. The most current of which is the Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas. After bringing her case to the Supreme Court twice, Abigail Noel Fisher is the in midst of fighting the University once again. Despite being in the top 10 percent of her graduating class, Fisher, a white female, was denied admission to the University. As a result, she is now attempting to sue the school for violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Affirmative action refers to state voted policies that are aimed at improving opportunities for historically excluded groups in American society.Policies adopted under affirmative action include gender and racial quotas that have the potential to affect or influence collegiate admissions.

The idea of affirmative action was introduced shortly after the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education’s decision in 1954 that desegregated schools. Nearly a decade after Brown v. Board of Education only five percent of undergraduate students, one percent of law students, and two percent of medical students in the country were African American, according to the National Conference of State Legislator.

In cases of higher education, affirmative action refers to admission policies that provide equal access to education for qualified individuals who have been historically marginalized. Typically those who are eligible for affirmative action policies are include African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, women, the mentally or physically disabled, and veterans.


Erik Acosta, University of Denver freshman photographed at the Academic Commons on Apr. 20th, 2016. Question: What would the ideal affirmative action policy look like? “Ideal affirmative action would be universal free college everyone with high merit deserves higher education.”


“Affirmative action doesn’t make up for anything, for most [minorities] they do not believe college is a feasible choice, affirmative action gives them that option,” said freshman Erik Acosta. “Give opportunity to students who demonstrate high potential and ability.”

While current studies conducted by the National Center on Education Statistics, showed an increase in minority enrollment at two or four year universities.  The racial makeup of high school graduates enrolled in a university after graduation where as follows; 67 percent White, 57 percent Black, 66 percent Hispanic, and 81 percent Asian. This statistical analysis again brings up the issue of whether or not affirmative action plans should be in practice at the collegiate level.

“I think affirmative action should be done according to socioeconomic standing and not race per say. I know many studious white people that aren’t necessarily targeted by affirmative action.” said sophomore, Alexander Hutchins.

Legislation under affirmative action vary in approach. Some infrastructures use various means to offer equal opportunity. The University of Denver, under Colorado Seminary Policy Manual, Section 3.10.020 states:

            “To remedy that history of discrimination and to secure for itself the benefits of diversity, the University has taken and will continue to take affirmative action to recruit faculty, students and staff from among women, minorities, persons with disabilities, disabled veterans and Vietnam-era veterans…once qualified individuals from among these groups  are hired as employees or admitted as students, they are retained, advanced and compensated on par with other equally active and productive members of the University community.”

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Alexander Hutchins, University of Denver sophomore photographed in the Academic Commons on Apr. 25, 2016. Question: Why is affirmative action important to you? “Breaking the poverty cycle for anyone in the United States is extremely important.”

Again, the University of Denver’s affirmative action policies are controversial as the Colorado Amendment 46 also known as the “Colorado Civil Rights Initiative” of 2008 proposed this bill prohibiting preferential treatment by the State of Colorado in public employment, public education, and public contracting. This bill was rejected by a very small margin, of 1.62 percent, making Colorado the first state to reject an anti-affirmative action ballot initiative.

“Affirmative action is useful. It helps make colleges more diverse and helps minorities attend colleges,” said freshman, Bianca Mok. “For the minorities that work hard and get the credentials, yes, they should be able to attend. There should be a quota to prevent colleges from saying ‘we have one really good one [minority] we’re diverse’ because that doesn’t help anyone.”

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Bianca Mok, University of Denver freshman photographed in the Academic Commons on Apr. 25, 2016. Question: What does diversity look like to you? “I call diversity being able to walk around campus and see different types of ethnicities being represented.”


One thought on “Affirmative action on college campus

  1. Really nice coverage, Angel! You do a good job of explaining affirmative action in a way that readers can understand from the beginning. I think that’s a good quality for a news story to have. So often, reporters jump right in with details and implications, assuming readers know the basics of the subject of the story. So I appreciate you breaking it down from the start just in case. Really interesting details about DU’s policies–I’d love to hear more about that.


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