Statement on the Supreme Court’s Decision Regarding Race-Conscious Admissions

June 29, 2023

Today, in a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, holding that race-conscious admissions programs at both Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the equal protection clause of the Constitution. (Read a round-up of media coverage.)
Although the ruling does not impose an outright ban on race-conscious admissions at colleges and universities, the constitutional test it establishes, particularly its focus on a lack of a meaningful end point, will effectively end such programs, while leaving the door open for institutions of higher education to consider an applicant’s lived experiences, including those referencing race.
NAICU President Barbara K. Mistick, D.M. issued the following statement:
“The idea of race-conscious admissions in higher education is a highly debated and complex topic that has been at the forefront of campus and community discussions for years.  Having many conversations with college leaders, I know that racial equity in higher education is a top priority.
“While the opinions from the justices will take some time to parse, it is clear that the Supreme Court’s decision establishes a new framework for the future of higher education admissions that will have wide-ranging implications.
“It is essential to recognize that affirmative action emerged as a response to historical and systemic inequalities that have persisted in our society.  Its intention is to address deeply rooted disadvantages faced by marginalized communities and create a more equitable and inclusive society.
“While it is critical that leaders have the ability to make decisions that best serve their campus and communities, I know that college and university presidents will work within the parameters of the law while adhering to their institutional missions.
“It is clear that opportunities for all Americans of all backgrounds to pursue a higher education is essential to our nation’s future.  The ability of each institution to build a community that best serves their diverse missions is important not only to each institution but also to preserving our nation’s leadership in bringing people of divergent backgrounds together into a single nation. 
“Even with today’s decision, I am certain that diversity in backgrounds, perspectives, demographics, religions, life experiences, and more will remain core educational values for private, nonprofit higher education.  We must continue to explore alternative solutions and find common ground to address the underlying issues of inequality and discrimination that persist in our society.”

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