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Students start UNC for Affirmative Action

Sophomore Joy Jiang, first-year Christina Huang, and sophomore Sarah Zhang pose for a portrait at the Old Well on Oct. 3, 2022. The UNC for Affirmative Action group aims to defend diversity at UNC.

“If we don't take action, nobody will.”

Joy Jiang is a sophomore at UNC and co-director of UNC for Affirmative Action, a new student group aiming to raise awareness about affirmative action and the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case that could affect it at UNC. 

Jiang is one of three co-directors concerned that students are not aware of the ongoing affirmative action debate and that those of minority backgrounds might not become aware of its benefits until it is too late. 

The term "affirmative action" refers to school admissions policies that fight unlawful discrimination, work to repair the disparities that past discrimination has caused and eliminate the chances of future discrimination.

The new group was created as the fight for affirmative action nears a peak. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) and UNC have been entangled in a lawsuit since 2014 and the case will be heard on Oct. 31. It has the potential to nullify UNC’s affirmative action policies. At the end of this month, Jiang and her fellow directors plan to protest with a group of UNC students on the Supreme Court’s steps. 

“On the actual day of the hearing, we really want to have students' voices amplified in the media. Having students there at the Supreme Court to be able to speak about their experiences with diversity and having a diverse campus is really important,” Sarah Zhang, a sophomore and co-director of the group, said.  

The group is working alongside the Asian Americans Advancing Justiceand is in conversation with the UNC Black Student Movement. They are in the process of reaching out to the Asian American Center, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History and the Carolina Latinx Center to build a diverse campus group. 

“We are working to build up a larger student coalition,” Christina Huang, a first-year and co-director of the group, said. “So I think just showing up and showing that you care and that you are in support means a lot.”

Zhang attributed the institutional factors that inhibit equality in college admissions as an inspiration for the group. She believes affirmative action is crucial to a diverse campus, one in which a potential student’s background is considered in the admissions process.   

“We're leading an initiative to support affirmative action because we believe that it's very important, and being colorblind to races can be very dangerous,” Huang said. “It’s personal for me. Education is really important because I'm a first-gen. My parents didn't get their bachelor's degree.”

To Huang, those who seek to nullify affirmative action use Asian Americans as a "racial wedge," reinforcing the model minority myth — a stereotype that ignores the diversity among Asian Americans and marginalizes racism against the group. She said getting rid of affirmative action would worsen the racial barriers to higher education. 

“We want to be inclusive, we want to spread the word,” Jiang said. “We want to help as many people understand what's going on and how this case is going to affect them.”

To learn more about UNC for Affirmative Action, interested parties can visit the group’s Instagram


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