Biedscheid: CSU should be striving for affirmative action

Jenna Biedscheid

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Colorado State University should be implementing a race-conscious admissions policy but isn’t prepared to defend one. We, as an institution, have fallen short in creating an inclusive and equitable space conducive to diversity.


CSU has devoted itself to several different methods of increasing diversity and inclusion on campus, including need-based financial aid, the Office of the Vice President for Diversity, the Diversity Symposium, the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative and the Bias Reporting System. President Joyce McConnell has responded to incidents of racial bias with reassurances that “CSU is avowedly anti-racist.”

Our vow to anti-racism should include reparations for Black people, Indigenous people and people of color. Affirmative action presents a path toward reparations and toward fulfilling that vow. Until we can reach the level of commitment to inclusion and equitable access needed to survive court cases against unlawful use of race as a factor, affirmative action isn’t in the picture. 

If it isn’t already clear by our incidents of racial bias, we have a long way to go as an institution in creating a campus of inclusion and equity. 

The Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering, the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, the College of Liberal Arts and the College of Business still have merit-based requirements for some of their majors. Merit is based on criteria like previous academic performance and experience that is relevant to the major. 

Because of this, merit-based requirements often filter out students from schools that don’t get as much funding as others. Policies like this benefit white, affluent students the most and filter out other qualified students.

Even after surviving countless challenges in court, public opinion of affirmative action remains contradictory. However, as of February 2019, American support for affirmative action was rising.

“Diversity is becoming a buzzword used to check off boxes in evaluations.”

For CSU to include race and ethnicity in admissions decisions, it should prove that inclusion, equity and diversity represent the core of the University and that the educational goals of the University would be bolstered. The most recent influential affirmative action case in the Supreme Court contains ambiguous language, leaving institutions that use a race-conscious admissions policy in a vulnerable position legally.

Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin produced a few critical guidelines for future use of race as a factor in admissions. The College Board outlines what this case means for institutions considering race in their admissions process. 

– The institution would have to show that including race in admissions decisions would be of interest to the campus and create educational benefits.

– CSU would have to specifically show that considering race in admissions would help achieve its goals for education and diversity. This also means proving that CSU has tried other methods to increase diversity on campus and showing why these methods have fallen short.


– The University would have to be able to defend that “holistic review” is still the main factor in admissions, even in “race conscious” decisions.

– The process of considering race must not be a one time event.

– Institutions should be using this case as a tool for achieving their own goals

Part of CSU’s values is to “demonstrate inclusiveness and diversity.” If that is true, CSU should be actively striving to defend its dedication to these guidelines and showing that affirmative action would be beneficial, especially because of our current lack of diversity.

When evaluating CSU demographics, we see that undergraduate on-campus demographics as of spring 2020 have yet to match the diversity of the United States.

Diversity is becoming a buzzword used to check off boxes in evaluations. When it includes a true commitment to creating a culture of inclusion and equity, it becomes a promise to repair the hurt that has been inflicted on communities of color for centuries. CSU wavers in its commitment to anti-racism similarly to pseudo-activists on Instagram who only speak out or take action when it improves their self-image. 

Reparations will not be achieved through the Race, Bias and Equity Initiative until our campus is actually anti-racist, unbiased and equitable. We need more action. Our community needs reparations now.

Editor’s Note: The wording “CSU’s mission statement” has been corrected to “CSU’s values.” Other wording in this column has been updated for accuracy.

Editor’s Note: A passage has been updated for accuracy. 

Jenna Biedscheid can be reached at or on Twitter @JennaBiedscheid.