Miles Hayter ’24
“It kind of upset me,” Jonathan Gerelus, college counselor at St. Andrew’s, said in reaction to the recent Affirmative Action overturn by the Supreme Court.
According to the National Archives, Executive Order 10925 was signed in response to the civil rights movement by former president John F. Kennedy. The order refers to measures to achieve non-discrimination in employment. Since then, people have used the term “affirmative action” to describe initiatives to achieve equal opportunities regardless of race, national origin, religion, and eventually gender.
One of the main focuses of the civil rights movement was education because it was a gateway to employment opportunities. These initiatives helped to level the playing field for minorities.
However, in July, the Supreme Court ruled that the admissions processes at Harvard University violated the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, resulting in race-conscious admissions being prohibited in colleges and universities
In response, some colleges have found ways around the new ruling by including other places for race to be discussed in the application, such as the essay and supplemental parts.
Many parents and students are still upset that the ruling was passed and are left questioning what this means for their future. Mr. Gerelus has had trouble responding to the concerns of families.
“What hurts me the most is that I can’t give them a definitive answer,” said Mr. Gerelus.
Many have tried to predict what will happen as a result of this decision but there has not been an admissions cycle or enough data to effectively determine the ramifications. However, Mr. Gerelus acknowledges it has possible impacts beyond college.
“This could have an impact on business down the road… on opportunities…we need to look at this now,” he said.
He thinks that the overall college admissions process needs to be reimagined. He suggests that colleges expand recruitment and community outreach. “Go to underserved communities and look at the students there and elevate them,” says Mr. Gerelus.
For certain groups, this is especially important, as schools in the past that banned race-conscious admission saw immediate drops in certain populations of students. NYU law professor Melissa Murray, the acting dean at the University of California Berkeley in 2016 and 2017, said: “There was an immediate drop off in the number of African American students that were both a confluence of the change in the admissions policy, but also African American students not wanting to go [to Berkeley] under those conditions.”
Colleges and universities can still use legacy in the admissions process. This left Mr.Gerlus outraged.
“I think those opportunities that were there to help create an equitable learning environment for students on campus should remain,” he said.
In regard to the legacy policy he said it does not make sense to “still have the legacy and checkboxes that are there for students to submit applications, but take the checkbox away for some of the students who need it most.”
Although the decision may seem bleak, Mr. Gerelus encourages students to remain perseverant and optimistic, stating that “This one decision should not hinder [students’ decision on] where they apply to school”.
The implications of this decision are still in question, but many believe it will have negative impacts. Only time will tell.
Photograph by Jose Luis Magana via AP News