COLUMN: Supreme Court may save Oklahoma from its harmful decision
Will Oklahoma’s affirmative action ban stick? I hope not.
But it may be decided soon. Federal concerns over legislation similar to Oklahoma State Question 759 may lead to a Supreme Court decision on the issue.
So is Oklahoma’s decision sound?
Oklahoma may have voted its way into a federal battle. Oklahoma SQ 759 amends the state constitution to ban preferential treatment in state agencies based on race, gender, ethnicity or national origin.
The question passed quietly, but a recent federal court decision struck down a similar policy passed in Michigan. Most supporters believe the Oklahoma measure will be upheld by our regional circuit court.
Opposing decisions would increase the odds of the Supreme Court hearing a related case. A decision on the Oklahoma policy is expected next summer.
In the meantime, it is worthwhile to consider the consequences of Oklahoma’s new law. The in-state impact is projected to be very slight. General counsel for OU, Anil Gollahalli, commented, “We don’t think it will have a significant impact.”
It likely won’t. Neither OU nor OSU explicitly preferences admissions or scholarship based on race or gender. Only a few organizations offer scholarships which may be affected by the policy.
Out of state, however, the measure could build momentum and become a contentious issue.
Whether or not Oklahoma’s policy is on the “winning” side of a potential Supreme Court decision, residents should be concerned with the precedent our amendment sets.
Affirmative action is used by private universities of their own choice. It is viewed as a necessary policy to create a diverse student population conducive to education.
Not every student at OU was offered the same advantages in their path to higher education, but proponents of an affirmative action ban would prevent universities from sorting out demographic advantages and disadvantages in the name of fairness.
Colleges aren’t attempting to sabotage fairness, and they aren’t “reverse-racists.” They are attempting to offer the best education they can.
Let universities determine their student populations however they please. Let education be defined by educators, not lawmakers.
November’s vote may come up in national talks over the next few years, but there is no question what is right for the future. Oklahoma’s policy is backward and a reaction to a nonexistent problem. If the issue receives national clarity in the coming years, Oklahoma should hope their policy ends up on the losing side.
Storm Dowd-Lukesh is an economics freshman.