Affirmative Action in Higher Education
In its tumultuous forty year history, affirmative action has been both praised and attacked as an answer to racial inequality. The policy was introduced by President Lyndon Johnson in 1965 as a method of redressing discrimination that persisted despite civil right efforts and constitutional guarantees. After the passage of Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, President Johnson shaped affirmative action through the passage of Executive Order 11246 in 1965. The executive order requires government contractors to "take affirmative action" toward prospective minority employees in all aspects of hiring and employment. On college campuses nation wide, the debate over affirmative action policies started with the implementation of Title VII. Many viewed affirmative action programs as a tool that would not only expand the opportunities of minorities but also play a significant role in diversifying America's colleges and universities. However, in the late 1970's, despite its good intentions, flaws in the policy began to show up. Reverse discrimination became an issue, exemplified by the Regents of California vs. Bake case in 1978. Allan Bakke, a white applicant, had been denied admission twice to the University of California Medical School at Davis, while less qualified minority students were being accepted. The medical school had separate admission policies for minority students and reserved and certain amount of spaces specifically for minorities. Bakke had felt that he had been discriminated against and maintained that his rejection violated the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment, so he took the University of California Regents to the Supreme Court of California. The Supreme Court ruled that while race was a legitimate factor in school admissions, the use of quotas as the medical school had set aside was not. The most important...
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