Affirmative Action & Unintended Discrimination

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On March 6, 1961, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925 with a provision that required government contractors to “take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, creed, color, or national origin.” Fifty-six years later, the concept of affirmative action has spread from the workplace to higher education - and its controversy has remained.

In 2014, the Supreme Court upheld a constitutional amendment in Michigan which bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities, allowing Michigan to join a growing group of seven other states. While studies have shown that minority enrollment decreased in those states, black and Hispanic students are still underrepresented at top colleges that utilize affirmative action. Additionally, the influx of non-white immigrants is making it difficult to see if affirmative action is hurting or helping African Americans.

While a majority of Asian American voters support affirmative action, the Justice Department has begun aninvestigation on Harvard on whether they are discriminating against Asian Americans. On the other side, a majority of white women oppose the policy; even though there is evidence that affirmative action primarily supports white women. As the Trump Administration reopens the discussion on affirmative action, the complexity around the policy has continued to deepen. Is affirmative action helping or hindering minority enrollment in higher education? And if so, who is it actually helping?

Panelists include:

Maurice A. Stinnett, Ed.D., Vice President of University Engagement and Chief Diversity Officer, Cleveland State University
Jessica Kelley, Professor, Department of Sociology, Case Western Reserve University
Mike Brickner, Senior Policy Director, ACLU of Ohio

Moderated by Youth Forum Council President TiOlu Oresanya.

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