Polls Find Disdain for Race-Based College Admission Preferences

by Danielle Charette - Swarthmore College on January 24, 2013

A Supreme Court decision on whether universities can use race as an admissions factor is expected by June, however the court of public opinion has already weighed in on the matter – and Americans of all stripes stand largely against affirmative action, according to a variety of recent polls.

In those surveys, at least half if not more of those polled voiced opposition to race-based preferences.

Take a Rasmussen national telephone survey, which found only 24 percent of likely voters were in favor of using race as a factor in college admissions, while 55 percent stood opposed, and the rest were undecided. That survey was conducted 11 months ago.

More recently, a survey released in October found that 57 percent of Americans ages 18 to 25 – so-called young millennials – are opposed to racial preferences in college admissions or hiring decisions. In other words, nearly six out of every 10 opposed the practice.

“Although most younger millennials are firmly opposed to affirmative action programs in college admissions, relatively few report that they were hurt in the college admissions process because of their race or gender,” states a report on the results of the survey, conducted by the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, & World Affairs at Georgetown University and the Public Religion Research Institute.

Results also indicated 47 percent of those in that age group “oppose programs that make special efforts to help blacks and other minorities to get ahead because of past discrimination.”

What’s more, the survey found “support for affirmative action programs diminishes considerably when younger millennials are asked specifically about affirmative action for college admission.”

The same month that survey was released, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Fisher v. the University of Texas, which deals with race-conscious college admissions in America’s public universities.

Most of academia has expressed support for the University of Texas, which aims to continue its practice of using race as a preferential factor in admissions decisions. Administrators and faculty at elite schools have also chimed in, defending the notion of “diversity” in the classroom. All members of the Ivy League, the nation’s top liberal arts colleges, and other big-name schools, have filed amicus briefs on University of Texas’ behalf.

Yet the higher education community’s overwhelming support for racial preferences is not mirrored by the general public.

This month, the American Enterprise Institute released a political report that compiled public opinion on a variety of issues, including affirmative action. In its publication, the organization cited data from a 2010 survey by the National Opinion Research Center which found that a vast majority of Americans – 81 percent – oppose affirmative action policies that favor African Americans.

What’s more, only between 44 and 62 percent of blacks polled voiced support for various minority preferences, the poll found. AEI’s public opinion analyst Karlyn Bowman notes, in an interview with The College Fix, that results on such a sensitive topic are always swayed by how pollsters’ frame the question.

Nevertheless, she points to perhaps the most consistent of all affirmative action data available, an annual survey by the UCLA-based Higher Education Research Institute. The poll has found that, since 1995 and every year since, roughly 50 percent of college freshmen believe race-based university admissions preferences should be abolished.

“You could balance a glass of water on that line it’s so flat,” Bowman says.

Fix contributor Danielle Charette is a student at Swarthmore College.

Click here to Like The College Fix on Facebook.

IMAGE: Donkey Hotey/Flickr

 

Help The College Fix thrive. Click here to make a tax-deductible donation!
Share this article:
  • susiewatts

    Great article and a subject that will continue to be discussed at length by those in all areas of college admissions. It is definitely an issue of concern.

  • Bandit

    Great article and a subject that will continue to be discussed at length by those in all areas of college admissions. The discussion will be about how to cheat their way around it.

  • bask_score

    Doing harm to one person in order to fix a grievance by privileging another is not justice, and not “fair.” By giving greater weight to some races and not others, race-based views are simply reinforced and perpetuated.

    Let all individuals stand on their own merits, regardless of gender or race. Questions of race or gender should be removed from college applications, so admissions officers can look only at grades and achievements.

  • grumpy1939

    We are 26th for a reason. The Soviets made only one major mistake that led to their loss of power. They over-educated their youth. Now, our Ivy-trained political class is reaping their long efforts to dumb-down our people so they will blame everything on GW and give their adulation to one who offers to replace their lost opportunity with “Hope and Change”. Sorry, Charlie. When an individual trades her/his individuality for membership in the ‘group” the result is a person with no reflection in a mirror. In my high school, it was the students who did not tolerate bullying. Diversity is the Natural way of the world. Every productive group/community consists of productive individuals. Individuality is not only a prerequisite for Balinese, it is the only way to be free. “Social Salvation” is just another philosophy of failure. “Social Darwinism” may be real, but it is just a euphamism for Progressive Eugenics. Explain how well the political choices of our minorities have worked for them over the last 100 years. If you are honest, you will finally realize that the politics of the victim work only for the politician who cynically uses them. Nothing trumps the exercise of individuality, and the power of the word, “No.” Is it really our weak Constitution or the oath-breakers of our politicians that are at fault? Don’t like freedom of speech? Constitutionally change it! Or, just break your oath to protect and defend.

  • 4AsianAmerican

    A nation that aspires to achieve racial equality cannot and should not support institutionalized racist policy. We can only end racial discrimination by ending racial discrimination, not by starting a new kind of racial discrimination, such as the racial preference policy in college admissions which is still widely practiced by many higher institutions.

    The racial preference affirmative action in college and university admissions has its unintended consequences which the proponents of affirmative action conveniently and continuously ignore. Self-righteous social engineering policy, which might even benefit one or few individuals, such as Justice Sotomayor, always fails on a grand scale. And once again, it was so eloquently argued by Law Professor Gail Heriot in her recent essay, “The Sad Irony of Affirmative Action”. (http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-sad-irony-of-affirmative-action)

  • SayNo2AffirmativeAction

    A nation that aspires to achieve racial equality cannot and should not support institutionalized racist policy. We can only end racial discrimination by ending racial discrimination, not by starting a new kind of racial discrimination, such as the racial preference policy in college admissions which is still widely practiced by many higher institutions.

    The racial preference affirmative action in college and university admissions has its unintended consequences which the proponents of affirmative action conveniently and continuously ignore. Self-righteous social engineering policy which might even benefit one or few individuals always fails on a grand scale. And once again, it was so eloquently argued by Law Professor Gail Heriot in her recent essay, “The Sad Irony of Affirmative Action”.
    (http://www.nationalaffairs.com/publications/detail/the-sad-irony-of-affirmative-action)

  • randydutton

    Why aren’t there links to the surveys?