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Owens: There Is A Way Forward After Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Owens: There Is A Way Forward After Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling

A detrimental impact short-term, but there is still a way forward to enhance diversity in higher ed.

Those are the personal views of Tennessee Tech Chief Diversity Officer Rob Owens. He said the Supreme Court’s decision on affirmative action was not unexpected.

“I believe, and I would suggest many of my colleagues in a similar workspace would suggest it could potentially be detrimental,” Owens said. “Primarily to students of color.”

However, Owens said there is hope that the future implications could be positive ones. He said in looking at institutions where similar legislation as the recent Supreme Court ruling has taken place at the state level, they have actually seen the diversity in student enrollment increase.

Owens said higher ed institutions are filled with great thinkers. He said he believes that they can find a way creatively and legally move forward in enhancing diversity on college campuses.

“These are the places where we produce the change agents, the great thinkers that push technology forward that move our society forward,” Owens said. “So we’re training our students to go out and make these changes and make the world a better place. Well the people who are doing the training, who are leading the institutions, the executive administrators if you will, these are very great thinkers. Great minds. So we’ll figure it out, and we’ll figure out a way to move forward.”

Owens said affirmative action came in on the heels of the Civil Rights Act. He said it was meant to level the playing field for students who meet admission requirements but do not typically have access to such opportunities at selective universities because of biased and in some cases racist systems.

“Access was still wasn’t being provided and made available like it should have been for groups that had been marginalized historically in the United States since the foundation of the country,” Owens said. “(…) And we’re talking about selective institutions. Within selective, you may be looking at elite private institutions, you may be looking at elite public institutions. So in this particular case, you have Harvard, and you have UNC. So it’s a public and a private institution.”

Owens said he does not speak on behalf of Tennessee Tech, because it is not a selective institution and he cannot speak from a professional standpoint at his institution.

“But what you’ll find if you research these institutions who have gone through this process in the past such as the University of Texas and the University of Michigan, they weren’t just admitted students because they had darker skin, because they were Hispanic or Black or as some people say African American, there were other criteria,” Owens said. “They’re still looking at test scores, they’re still looking at GPAs, they’re still looking at community service that students may have participated in as high school students.”

Owens said he is supportive of affirmative action in higher education in a number of ways and from several angles. He said there have been challenges posed by legislation for providing access and support for students of marginalized groups, however, there is a way forward.

Owens said he believes they will find that way forward to increase diversity, which he believes is important to society.


The post Owens: There Is A Way Forward After Supreme Court Affirmative Action Ruling appeared first on News Talk 94.1/AM 1600.