Ruling May Mean a Sharp Drop in Black and Latino Students

Nine states already ban the use of race-conscious college admissions at their public universities, and their experience could provide a sign of the ruling’s consequences.

After Michigan banned race-conscious admissions in 2006, Black undergraduate enrollment declined at the University of Michigan, the state’s flagship school. The share of Black students fell to 4 percent in 2021, from 7 percent in 2006.

A similar drop took place at the University of California’s most selective schools after a 1996 referendum, Proposition 209, banned race-conscious admissions. That year, Black students at the University of California, Los Angeles, made up 7 percent of the student body. By 1998, the percentage of Black students had fallen to 3.43 percent. In 2022, it was up to 5 percent — but still well below what it had been more than a quarter-century earlier.

At highly selective liberal arts colleges, officials expect that the number of Black students could return to levels not seen since the 1960s.

An amicus brief filed by the highly selective liberal arts schools, including Amherst, Wesleyan and Williams, said that “the percentage of Black students matriculating would drop from roughly 7.1 percent of the student body to 2.1 percent.”

Some studies suggest that these shifts, which force students from highly competitive schools to less prestigious institutions, have long-term implications for their income and job prospects, promoting inequality.

But some scholars say that dire predictions over sharp declines are alarmist and that schools will ultimately return to more racially diverse classes as they adjust to the new paradigm. They point to the University of California, which increased outreach in low-income communities. Over time, the number of Black and Hispanic students increased at most schools in the system.

Richard Sander, a law professor at U.C.L.A. who opposes race-based affirmative action, said that graduation rates for Black students improved after affirmative action was banned in California.

“The four-year graduation rate at U.C.L.A. and Berkeley was between 15 and 20 percent before Prop 209. It immediately went over the 70s for six-year graduation,” he said.

Source link