Let’s define equal opportunity:
Equal opportunity is an important tool to provide qualified individuals with equal access to educational and professional opportunities they would otherwise have been denied despite their strong qualifications. These policies make certain that all Americans are considered fairly and equally for jobs and educational opportunities.
A quick history lesson:
President John F. Kennedy's Executive Order (E.O.) 10925 used equal opportunity for the first time by instructing federal contractors to take "affirmative action to ensure that applicants are treated equally without regard to race, color, religion, sex, or national origin." He also created the Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity.
So why should colleges and universities use equal opportunity in admissions?
In June 2003, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision on equal opportunity [Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)] upholding the use of race in admissions decisions. Reiterating America's commitment to equal opportunity, the Court concluded that "effective participation by members of all racial and ethnic groups in the civic life of our nation is essential if the dream of one Nation, indivisible, is to be realized."
Equal opportunity ensures that colleges and universities can identify and attract outstanding individuals from historically underrepresented groups. The diversity of our college campuses is critical to the future strength of our society and our economy. Colleges have always admitted students based upon a wide range of criteria that includes extracurricular activities and life experiences, as well as quantitative measures such as test scores. Diversity on college campuses improves the learning process for all students -- male and female, regardless of race or gender. Equal opportunity ensures that an applicant's full background and life experience can be considered as part of an admissions decision.