2 former Ala. HS students weigh in on US Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action

Published: Jul. 10, 2023 at 1:22 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - We caught up with two amazing Alabama students since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision wiping out affirmative action for college admissions at Harvard University, and thereby colleges and universities around the nation.

“It’s emotional - not only because I went to Harvard,” says Jackie Tubbs, who graduated from Harvard in 2022. She graduated high school from Thompson High in Alabaster in 2018 with a 4.7 GPA. We asked how she did that, at which she replied, “Getting straight A’s all four years and then taking five AP courses.”

Tubbs is well aware of the inferences when people talk about affirmative action, implying minority students are getting a free pass to college without having to work for it.

Tubbs says, “Affirmative action is painted as people getting something they don’t deserve, but it’s not raced-based, which is the term people like to use, but it is more or so race conscious. Conscious that race does play a role in people’s lives and what different opportunities mean for them, and also how well they did or didn’t do in other aspects of that application process.”

Some legal experts say the ruling is confusing. The Supreme Court said students can refer to race in their essays during the application process to express how they’ve overcome adversity, all while saying admissions officers can not consider race as a factor for admissions. The justices in a 6-to-3 decision said considering race as a factor is not fair to the Asian plaintiffs who brought the case, but made no mention that Asian enrollment projections are up nearly 30 percent at Harvard, higher than other minority groups, according to the data from Harvard.

We also talked to Nyla Boler, another outstanding Alabama student. She’s now attending Boston College after graduating from Birmingham City Schools’ Woodlawn High as a junior in college. That’s right. She was taking high school and college courses at the same time, and again with a high GPA. Nyla, too, says she’s disappointed with the ruling and says if justices want fairness, they should also do away with legacy programs giving priority to students based on their parents who once attended the schools.

Boler says, “If schools can’t consider race, I feel that they should not be able to consider legacy, because in my personal opinion I feel like legacy is like affirmative action for those who are privileged. I feel like if we are going to be fair, let’s take everything away.”

A number of activist groups are now suing Harvard over its legacy program, saying it overwhelmingly favors white students.

AP reporting the NAACP is also asking more than 1,500 colleges and universities to even the playing field in admissions, including by ending legacy admissions.

While that lawsuit goes through the courts, both students say the affirmative action ruling will impact generations of students to come.

Here’s a great update on these students - Nyla Boler was in Israel studying abroad when we caught up with her, and Jackie Tubbs is now an intern at a law firm in Washington, D.C.

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