This article was originally published by the Center for American Progress.
The Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments tomorrow in Fisher v. University of Texas, a constitutional challenge to race-conscious admission policies at colleges and universities. If the Court bars the use of race in admissions, it will erase 50 years of progress and threaten universities’ attempts to make college campuses more diverse and inclusive. Conservatives hope that this case will overturn the Court’s 2003 ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger, which allowed schools to use race as one of the many factors in achieving racial diversity in their institutions. Such a ruling, however, would adversely impact students on college campuses and would go against our nation’s founding principles of fairness and equal opportunity.
As a nation we have come a long way in terms of inclusiveness—in 2008 we elected our first African American president—but our work is far from done. It’s important that as a country we continue to expand opportunities for all to ensure that we are giving everyone a fair shot.
Here are 10 reasons why diversity on college campuses is crucial for all students.
1. Our nation is changing, and our higher education institutions need to reflect this diversity. More than half of all U.S. babies today are people of color, and by 2050 our nation will have no clear racial or ethnic majority. Communities of color are tomorrow’s leaders, and we need to better prepare our future workforce.
2. While communities of color have made great strides in closing the education gap, disparities in higher education remain prevalent. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2009 about 28 percent of Americans older than 25 years of age had a four-year college degree. That same year only 17 percent of African Americans and 13 percent for Hispanics had a four-year degree.
3. It’s in our national interest to invest in our future workforce. People of color today make up about 36 percent of the workforce. According to Census Bureau projections, by 2050 one in two workers will be a person of color. As our nation becomes more diverse, so too does our workforce.
4. Diversity in the workforce fosters innovation and competitiveness in business. Studies consistently show that diversity drives innovation and fosters creativity. In a Forbes survey, 85 percent of respondents said diversity is crucial for their businesses, and approximately 75 percent indicated that their companies will put more focus during the next three years to leverage diversity to achieve their business goals.