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ERIC Number: EJ801293
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Jun-20
Pages: 1
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0009-5982
"Bakke" Set a New Path to Diversity for Colleges
Schmidt, Peter
Chronicle of Higher Education, v54 n41 pA1 Jun 2008
Thirty years ago, Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. sent the nation's selective colleges down a path where few had ventured before. In the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark ruling in "Regents of the University of California v. Bakke," he wrote that colleges were legally justified in giving some modest consideration to their applicants' race, so long as they were motivated by a desire to attain the educational benefits of diversity. Before "Bakke," selective colleges regarded race-conscious admissions policies mainly as a way to remedy past societal discrimination against black, Hispanic, and Native American applicants. The "Bakke" ruling declared that justification off limits, replacing a rationale grounded in history with one grounded in educational theory. The approaching 30th anniversary of that Supreme Court decision, announced on June 23, 1978, finds many in higher education wondering where Justice Powell's guidance has gotten them--and what, exactly, lies ahead. His rationale for race-conscious policies may have ensured their long-term survival in the courts, by linking them to a common educational concern that is unlikely to go away anytime soon. However, the decision also limited the reach of such policies, forcing colleges to consider race only as a "plus factor." They had to abandon quests for enrollments that reflected society's racial composition in favor of having enough minority students to ensure a variety of perspectives. Some advocates for minority students express frustration that the educational-diversity rationale has led colleges to seek out all different types of students rather than focusing on trying to increase their black, Hispanic, and Native American enrollments. At the end of the day, the advocates argue, pursuing diversity for educational purposes is not the same thing as pursuing racial equality and social justice--and is not nearly enough.
Chronicle of Higher Education. 1255 23rd Street NW Suite 700, Washington, DC 20037. Tel: 800-728-2803; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Bakke v Regents of University of California