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College students hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court following a decision in 2003 that upheld the limited use of race in university admissions in a case involving the University of Michigan.
College students hold signs outside the U.S. Supreme Court following a decision in 2003 that upheld the limited use of race in university admissions in a case involving the University of Michigan. Alex Wong/Getty Images
Produced for broadcast by WNYC, New York.
In recent years, one focus of the debate over affirmative action in the United States has been its use in education, especially race-based admissions policies at universities.
In a 2003 ruling involving the University of Michigan, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a limited consideration of race in admissions to allow colleges to create a diverse student body. However, voters in Michigan have since passed an amendment to the state constitution that bans the use of affirmative action in the public arena. Two other states, California and Washington, had already taken similar steps. So is it time to get rid of affirmative action?
A panel of six experts faced off on that topic Nov. 13, in an Oxford-style debate as part of the Intelligence Squared U.S. series. The program is modeled after one that started in London in 2002. Three experts argued in favor of the formal proposition, "It's Time to End Affirmative Action," and three argued against.
The debate took place at the Asia Society and Museum in New York City. It was moderated by Robert Siegel, senior host of National Public Radio's All Things Considered and the radio host of the Intelligence Squared series.
In a vote before the debate, 44 percent of audience members opposed the motion, "It's Time to End Affirmative Action," and 34 percent supported it; 22 percent were undecided. After the debate, 55 percent were against it, 39 percent supported it and 6 percent were still undecided.
Highlights from the debate: