Until lions have their historians, the hunt will always glorify the hunter (African proverb)

Elizabeth Ortiz, Ed.D.

In an accounting of a story there are always two sides.  Conservatives bemoan so-called special considerations for underrepresented minority students in college admissions without looking at the broader societal context and implications of their policy perspectives.  The latest court challenge to affirmative action, Fisher vs. Texas, is based on the premise of reverse discrimination. Diverse college students from across the country might argue otherwise.  They are witness to minimal faculty diversity, low numbers of diverse university executives, and insufficient numbers of students who look like them on college campuses. 

            If universities abolish affirmative action without developing alternative policy mechanisms to level the playing field what can we expect the result to be?  I believe we will never achieve educational parity.  Student bodies will remain disproportionately white and the pathway to opportunity will be further narrowed.  Our universities will not reflect the changing diversity of the United States, and inequality will become more ingrained.  We will suffer economically and fail to live up to the promises of a democratic nation. 

Today, diverse students continue to be admitted to colleges and universities in insufficient numbers.  Now is the time for bold measures to increase college access and attainment for diverse students not to reverse the gains that have made since the passage of the Civil Rights Act.  The threats to affirmative action continue to affect higher education.  “Advocates who challenge the educational value of diversity, as well as the legitimacy of corresponding racial and ethnic preferences, have shifted much of their advocacy focus from a federal legal venue to one that is much more publically driven. The shift, particularly in the wake of Grutter, reflects movement from the court of law to the court of public opinion (Coleman, Palmer, Rippner, Riley, 2009).  Institutions of higher education cannot bow down to this outside pressure.  They are obligated to continue to make the case that supports diversity not only in the courtroom and on college campuses but also in in the forum of public opinion.

            We need to have a holistic view of the problem and appreciate what is at stake.  “Truth” includes many perspectives but as a board ILACHE believes in diversifying American Universities and the affirmative action legislation that assists in this endeavour.   ILACHE will continue to be an active player in safeguarding diversity in higher education.  We will seek accountability from state universities and colleges in areas of student enrollment and achievement as well as faculty and staff diversity.  We will continue to support policies that are inclusive of Latinos and students of color. This is what America is all about, justice and the opportunity for a better life for all of its citizens, not just a few.