The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the state of Michigan’s decision in a 6-2 ruling to end affirmative action at its public universities on Tuesday. This is not the first or final decision around the issue of a race-based admission process, nor any racial controversies in higher education for that matter.
Obviously ACU is neither a public university nor located in Michigan. But when any Supreme Court decision is made, it easily creates ripple effects across the country. And with freshly opened discussions about race on ACU and Hardin-Simmons University campuses, even national decisions can become relative in Abilene.
I don’t want to make a blanket statement that assumes a race issue over there is applicable to any race issue over here just because they have one word in common. And I don’t want to re-open the wounds that some local Abilene media have already caused in reporting on our student body.
So if it’s not about having racial controversy in common, what does a court case on Michigan law have to do with offensive fake parking tickets in Abilene? They each made headlines about racism, but perhaps in both cases it was more realistic that the issue revolved around a need for voices to be heard.
In SCOTUS this week, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, going out of his way to say that the case wasn’t about the constitutionality of racial preferences. It was to uphold the rights of Michigan voters to debate controversial issues and to defend democratic governance, even when it comes to policies regarding race. The court wanted voters’ voices heard.
Many ACU students began to speak out about the racist incidents after they felt like administration wasn’t listening. J Sheppard, senior IT major from Oklahoma City, received one of the racially offensive tickets.
“In the immediate days that followed, to me, it felt like the administration either wasn’t aware or wasn’t doing anything,” he said.
It was then that students began to raise awareness of racism on campus via social media and white T-shirts. They wanted victims’ voices heard.
Let’s stop arguing whether racism does or does not exist, in public university admissions or in ACU parking lots. Let’s return to the First Amendment, to freedom of speech and advocating for all voices, voters and students alike, to be heard.