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Long Run Changes After Affirmative Action Bans in Public Universities

When several states banned affirmative action in higher education admissions, they pledged to use alternative policies to promote inclusion and diversity. In a recent article, Mark C. Long of the University of Washington and Nicola A. Bateman of the Brookings Institution tested that claim and the impact on college demographics.

The researchers found that “the elimination of affirmative action has led to persistent declines in the share of underrepresented minorities among students admitted to and enrolling in public flagship universities in these states.” After conducting a number of case studies, Long and Batemen found that schools were unable to increase opportunities for minority applicants using alternative measures. These measures include considering socioeconomic factors in admissions, increasing outreach and financial support for low-income students, and dropping the practice of giving preference to “legacies."

In their study of the University of California-Berkley, they found that, although the percentage of high school graduates that were under-represented minorities rose, the percentage of applied, admitted, or enrolled college freshman from that population did not. Although minority students made up a large percentage of the high school graduate pool, the following year’s college freshman class did not reflect it.

-Caroline Berner