Shades of Admission: The Colorful Debate on College Affirmative Action

By: Oluwafikunayo Ajeigbe
President, Black Pre-Law Students Association

On June 29th, 2023 the future of college admissions was forever changed. In a highly controversial 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court ruled against the use of race-based affirmative action in Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and UNC based on the premise that the practices do “not comply with the principles of the equal protection clause embodied in Title VI of the Civil Rights Act”. 

The original purpose of affirmative action policies was to bridge the gap in access for underrepresented groups by providing opportunities where they have been disadvantaged historically. It is important to note that the use of affirmative action policies in college admissions as a whole was not overturned, but simply the use of race-based affirmative action. This raises questions surrounding why factoring race is considered discriminatory, but other admission policies, such as legacy admissions, escape the same scrutiny.

Examining the legal field specifically, 5% of all lawyers are Black, which is disproportionate to the U.S. population of approximately 13%. While this is an already disappointing statistic, it is more disheartening to note that this statistic has not changed in 10 years, despite the implementation of race-based affirmative action. As the President of the Black Law Student Association- Undergrad chapter, our mission is to bridge the racial gap between African American students and access to legal resources, aiming to increase this percentage. This involves providing mentorship, discounted prep books, and overall access to lawyers that Black students may lack due to years of discriminatory policies impacting generational wealth, education, and opportunities. However, the removal of race-based affirmative action, once a structural aid, raises concerns about potential setbacks for future Black and minority attorneys in accessing opportunities.

The strictly racialized history in the United States, which is rooted in slavery and genocide, still lives on today. A longstanding history of racial discrimination practices such as redlining, and segregation have created significant disparities in education, income, and socioeconomic status. Legacy admissions, which give preference to the children of alumni, disproportionately benefit those who come from white affluent families and were not impacted by the aforementioned policies. When one is applying to college it’s important to realize that access to education and opportunities are also a crucial part of this process. This raises the question of what the future of college admissions will look like. If diversity, equity, and inclusion are as important to colleges and universities as they have been portraying following the events of 2020, then they must critically reevaluate and incorporate these principles to ensure a holistic application review process.

If you are interested in joining the Villanova chapter of Black Pre-Law Students Association, please contact Oluwafikunayo Ajeigbe at or Alex Karlesses at

By Alexandra Karlesses
Alexandra Karlesses