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High court will address race-based admissions

By Peter Shahin, Daily Staff Reporter
Published October 9, 2012

Rackham student Daniel Hirschman, who is currently working on a paper about the University’s affirmative action practices between the 1960s and 2004, said the court’s findings seem counterintuitive.

The court found in 2003 that the more "objective" system involving formal point awarding was considered illegal in Gratz, while the more subjective evaluation of diversity from an application was allowed under Grutter.

"Affirmative action is only an issue at a small number of selective universities," Hirschman said. "It's a function of a fact that you're trying to admit a smaller number of students than are applying."

Hirschman also questioned the meritocratic idea that only the most academically qualified students should be allowed to attend these elite schools. He cited the long-standing disparity in SAT scores between races as an indication that the test captured a racial bias, and therefore race was needed to adequately consider an applicant.

"I think there's an assumption in a lot of the public discourse, the (U.S. Supreme Court) debates as an example, that students that deserve to get in are the ones who are the most academically talented," Hirschman said. "That's not how universities have ever worked ... How do we define 'merit' in the first place?"