Enrique Carbajal, a junior political science and sociology major with a concentration in criminal justice, believes he owes his opportunity at higher education to affirmative action.
“You wouldn’t see me walking around campus I believe without Affirmative Action,” Carbajal said.
Wednesday, the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments in Fisher vs. The University of Texas, the case that may put new limits on affirmative action.
Carbajal grew up in a small town and then moved to Denver with his middle class family.
“Access to schooling was always a priority in my family,” Carbajal said.
When going through high school, Carbajal didn’t believe he was going to go to college.
“That was until a counselor pushed me to apply,” Carbajal said. “The motivation was the amount of opportunities I would have, availability to better jobs, and to set a good example for my younger siblings.”
Carbajal wants to take advantage to serve his country by possibly being a deputy of state or a foreign service officer in other nations.
“As a result of affirmative action a lot of doors have opened for me.” Carbajal said. “Historically it’s a huge move in the right direction to repair bad history and it’s enabled me to be where I’m at now.”
A lot of students don’t realize that affirmative action is for them according to Carbajal.
“It’s not unconstitutional because everyone should have equal access….” Carbajal said. “It’s unfair to see it as reverse discrimination.”
Though, opponents believe that affirmative action goes against the Constitution by not giving some an advantage in getting into college and not others.
Connor Rock, a sophomore sociology student, believes while affirmative action may have the right ideas, the way that it is carried out is missing the mark.
“Affirmative action is done with good intention; in the way that it tries to level the playing field,” Rock said. “However, the current system of affirmative action couldn’t be less ideal.”
According to Rock, nothing can be determined on just a facade of race, but a case-by-case need process.
Daniel McLane, a sociology professor, believes that all students can benefit from a diverse campus.
“Sociologists call it ‘cultural capital’ and it’s a skill set to be used when they get into the job market,” McLane said. “I think there needs to be an honest debate if affirmative action is effective.”
In 2003, California declared affirmative action in Proposition 209, to be unconstitutional, which resulted in huge plummet of diversity on the campus in terms of Hispanic and African American students according to McLane.
If the Supreme Court were to reflect California’s decision according to McLane one more tool would be taken away to level the playing field and, “it’s possible that some campuses will becomes less diverse.”
Diversity beat reporter and entertainment reporter Bailey Constas (@BaileyLiza) can be reached at email@example.com