In Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, the United States Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities could continue to consider race or ethnicity as one of several factors in an admissions policy that seeks to achieve broad diversity goals. To the relief of proponents of race-conscious admissions programs, the Fisher Court affirmed that the 'educational benefits' that flow from a diverse student body are a compelling government interest under strict scrutiny analysis. The Court further upheld the determination that Grutter mandates 'deference to the University’s conclusion, based on its experience and expertise, that a diverse student body would serve its educational goals.' The Court gave little further guidance on precisely which of the several potential educational benefits of diversity are appropriate to consider. In exploring the availability of race-neutral alternatives and their effectiveness in achieving the same educational benefits as race-conscious programs, should courts focus on the benefits that inure to the larger educational community and society as a whole from having a diverse student population? Or should courts focus strictly on the 'direct benefits' to individuals admitted under affirmative action programs?
This Essay suggests that courts should continue to focus on the educational benefits of affirmative action that are shared by the entire educational community and society at large. Further, even if courts were to turn their focus to the impact that affirmative action programs have on individual beneficiaries of diversity initiatives, this Essay argues that the courts should conclude that the educational and career benefits to individuals far outweigh any purported harms to beneficiaries.
Archer, Deborah N., "Collective or Individual Benefits?: Measuring the Educational Benefits of Race-Conscious Admissions Programs" (2014). Articles & Chapters. 360.