As Nebraska voters will soon go to the polls on the issue, a University of Iowa study of students at seven public law schools finds minority students do not feel stigmatized by affirmative action. U-I law professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig says minority students who attend affirmative action schools reported feeling just as good about their qualifications and how they were treated on campus, as minorities at non-affirmative action schools.
“We wanted to test whether affirmative action was causing the stigma or whether the stigma was there already and what we found is something that supported our beginning notion that stigma to any extent it exists was already there. And that it’s not that affirmative action causes stigma but that certain racial groups are stigmatized,” Onwuachi-Willig says.
Onwuachi-Willig says she hopes the findings bolster support for affirmative action as voters in Nebraska and Colorado to the polls next month to decide whether to ban the practice. She says, “The stigma argument can be powerful because even someone who is pro-civil rights who wants to advance educational opportunities for minorities may think oh I’m not going to support affirmative action if I think ultimately it ends up hurting minorities.”
The survey involved 610 students.