New Report Says Americans Support Affirmative Action–But Not When It Comes To College Admissions

June 2, 2013  |  

While the Supreme Court is debating Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin — the case in which a white Texan sued the University of Texas at Austin arguing she was denied admission in favor of minority applicants with lesser credentials — the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) released a new survey finding that although Americans strongly support affirmative action generally, few support it in the realm of college admissions.

According to the survey, more than two-thirds (68 percent) of Americans support programs which give special consideration to blacks and other minorities in order to make up for past discrimination. But only 29 percent of Americans believe that blacks and other minorities should receive preference in college admissions to make up for past inequalities, while 64 percent are opposed.

“Americans draw a distinction between the general principle of affirmative action, which they support, and race-based preferences in the arena of college admissions, which they oppose,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of PRRI, in a press statement. “Even among those who support affirmative action programs generally, nearly 6-in-10 oppose affirmative action programs in college admissions.”

“Opposition to affirmative action is strong in college admissions despite its minimal perceived impact,” added Daniel Cox, PRRI Research Director. “Fewer than 1-in-10 whites with at least some college education report being hurt in their admission prospects due to their race or ethnicity.”

The strongest supporters of affirmative action in college admissions are black Americans, but they do not believe their race has played much a role in their own admission process. “Only 16 percent say they were helped because of their race, while 8 percent say they were hurt. Hispanic Americans are about as likely to report that their ethnicity was an advantage (11 percent) as they are to say it was a disadvantage (7 percent),” according t the report.

Also interesting among the findings is that Americans are unlikely to think that their careers have been impacted by their race or ethnicity. The data found that 80 percent of respondents said their race has not made a difference while seven percent believe they were helped because of their race, and 11 percent say their race hurt them. But black Americans (20 percent) and Hispanic Americans (17 percent) were more than twice as likely as white Americans (seven percent) to report that their race or ethnicity negatively affected their careers.

Do you think affirmative action has ever been a factor in your life?

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