Affirmative action made its way back to the U.S. Supreme Court this week; the outcome could affect universities across South Dakota.
A white female student brought a lawsuit against the University of Texas, claiming the university chose students less qualified than herself because they were minority students.
Affirmative action was designed during the Civil Rights movement to create more diversity in the workplace and on college campuses.
The current Supreme Court cases address whether the program is still needed today. Students and faculty members at the University of South Dakota agree that diversity is extremely important for a college campus.
"The diversity of a college campus, that's the whole point of being in college is to be surrounded by all these different people with all these different thoughts and feelings and beliefs and backgrounds and cultures. I mean, that's the college environment," said recent college graduate Evonne Corrales.
Some proponents of Affirmative Action fear without the program, campus diversity will decline.
"It will make it harder for them to recruit a diverse student body…If you have less students of color coming to campus, then where are there perspectives represented," said USD Senior Diversity Officer Jesus Trevino.
Some students tell us diversity is especially important for South Dakota universities, saying the state isn't that diverse outside of college communities.
Other students say they are all for diversity, but feel a federal law isn't needed.
"It's kind of a fine line, its one of those deals where you can't really write a specific law about it. Its kind of more like a code of ethics that is unwritten," said USD Sophomore Tyler Stolsmark.
Some students feel affirmative action was needed in the past, but today, all students should have an equal opportunity to attend college.
"Minority or not, we're all citizens, I would say that we're all equal," said Freshmen Jimmy Cuadros and Allen Stillson.
The Supreme Court will not rule on the case until June. If the court gives a broad ruling, all public and private universities in the U.S. may be affected.
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