Can Income Help Integrate US Campuses?

ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones argues that Monday's Supreme Court decision is the perfect opportunity to ponder what some people think could be a more acceptable way of ensuring diversity on America's campuses: affirmative action based on class. 

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Plaintiff Abigail Fisher with attorney after Supreme Court heard arguments. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images News)

In light of Monday's Supreme Court decision, ProPublica's Nikole Hannah-Jones examines what some people think could be a more acceptable way of ensuring diversity on America's campuses: affirmative action based on class. 

The latest chapter in this national struggle was supposed to come with the U.S. Supreme Court's consideration of an affirmative action case involving a white student and the University of Texas. But the ruling -- announced Monday amid much anticipation -- merely sent the case back to the lower courts for reconsideration.

Afiirmative action, in its threadbare form, lives for now. But there was enough in Monday's opinion to suspect it will be diminished further in time.

All of which makes it an opportune moment to think again about what some people think could be a fairer and more palatable way of ensuring diversity on America's campuses -- affirmative action based on class. The idea seems simple enough: This approach would give poor students of any race a helping hand into college, and any policy that gives an admissions boost to lower-income students would naturally benefit significant numbers of black and Latino students ...

Yet ignoring race does not wipe its effects away. A formula that uses class while disregarding race may be politically popular, but many scholars say race remains so powerful a factor that a class-based system would seriously reduce black and Latino representation at American colleges from their current levels.

At the heart of their argument: Poor white Americans are still privileged when compared to poor African Americans and Latinos. Use class as the basis for admissions preference, studies show, and the nation's colleges will be flush with poor white students ...

Read Nikole Hannah-Jones' entire piece at ProPublica.

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