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Majority of Americans Favor Leaving Race Out of College Admissions, New Poll Shows

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

On Oct. 31, the United States Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in cases challenging “race-conscious” admissions at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Edward Blum, who brought forth the cases, believes that this kind of college admission violates the U.S. Constitution and federal law, The Washington Post reported. 

“If things go his way, Blum said in an interview, ‘I think this is just the beginning of the restoration of really the founding principles of our civil rights movement,’” The Post reported, adding that Blum said “the founding principles were that your race and your ethnicity should not be used to help you or harm you in your life’s endeavors,” he said. “I think the majority of Americans will think of this as a good outcome and then be a stepping stone to other good outcomes, not just in the law but in the way we see each other.”

More than 6 in 10 Americans support banning the consideration of race in college admissions, a new Washington Post-Shar School poll revealed this week. And, 64 percent of respondents think it is good for schools to have programs designed to increase racial diversity on campus. 

Broken down, 63 percent of all U.S. adults surveyed said they would support  the Supreme Court banning colleges and universities from considering a student's race and ethnicity when making decisions about student admissions. This included 66 percent of white respondents, 47 percent of black respondents, 60 percent of Hispanic respondents, and 65 percent of Asians and Pacific Islanders. 

“You shouldn’t ask a race question,” Lisa Oliva, a Cuban American mother of seven, told The Post. “If they’ve got the grades, it doesn’t matter if they’re purple.”

Thirty-six percent of Americans said they oppose it, including 34 percent of white respondents, 53 percent of black respondents, 40 percent of Hispanic respondents and 35 percent of Asian and Pacific Islander respondents. 

“It is important to have a race-neutral approach to getting into college,” said Gwen Meeks from Missouri, who is white. “Nobody’s ever helped by giving people something they haven’t earned through their own hard work.” 

The Post noted that a group called Students for Fair admissions alleges that Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill practice “unlawful discrimination” in their admissions process. And, other polls also show that Americans do not support college admissions that take race into consideration.

In four polls from 2003 to 2016, Gallup found at least two-thirds of Americans saying college admissions should be “solely on the basis of merit.” In 2013, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found just over three-quarters of Americans opposed allowing universities to consider race. In 2019 and again this year, the Pew Research Center found more than 7 in 10 adults saying race or ethnicity should not be a factor in admissions.

The Post’s poll was conducted from Oct. 7-10 among 1m238 adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

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