The United States Supreme Court ruled today that race-conscious college admissions are unconstitutional, in a pair of cases relating to Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
This ruling effectively bans affirmative action, which has been illegal in California since the passing of Proposition 209 in 1996.
In a statement, University of California President Michael Drake said he is “disappointed” by the court’s decision.
In an amicus brief filed in August of 2022, the university’s lawyers stated that while race-neutral admissions policies had allowed them to increase diversity, the gains have not allowed the university to enroll a student body that reflects the diversity of the state population.
“UC’s decades-long experience with race-neutral approaches demonstrates that highly competitive universities may not be able to achieve the benefits of student body diversity through race-neutral measures alone. To fulfill their role of preparing successive generations of citizens to succeed in an increasingly diverse Nation, universities must retain the ability to engage in the limited consideration of race,” the filing said.
Drake also shared data about demographic changes in the UC system since the passing of Prop. 209.
According to the statement, the percentage of white undergraduates enrolled at UC campuses went from 36% in 1994 to 22.2% in the fall of 2022, and the percentage of Asian students dropped 5%, from 37% to 32.2%.
The percentage of Black students went from 4% in 1994, to 3% in 2002, to 4.5% in 2022. During the same timeframe, the enrollment of Latine undergraduate students increased from 15% to 22.5%.
Drake noted that while affirmative action was not the “conclusive solution” to problems in college admissions, it was a “necessary pathway” to help improve the system.
“The University of California continues to work to create clearer pathways to college and to address inequality in admissions,” Drake said in the statement. “We stand ready to share our expertise and lessons learned as we collaborate with our partners to achieve a higher education landscape that reflects the rich diversity of our nation.”