As I am sure you are all aware, on June 29, the United States Supreme Court issued a 6-3 ruling in the cases of Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v Harvard,
and SFFA v University of North Carolina.
While the written opinion and accompanying dissenting opinions
comprise 237 pages of text, the key takeaway
is this: The majority ruled that race-based affirmative action practices in college admissions violate key portions of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Although lower courts had in recent years found that affirmative actions at Harvard and UNC did not discriminate in admissions, the U.S. Supreme Court ultimately ruled that “however well-intentioned and implemented in good faith,” the universities’ admission practices did not pass constitutional muster and that race could no longer be considered in deciding which students to admit.
This decision overturns 45 years of legal precedent.
Since the Court issued its ruling, universities all over the country, including Cleveland State, have been under scrutiny to determine how this decision will impact their admissions practices on campus and how they will comply with this ruling. In the most basic sense, there is a clear response to this scrutiny:
Cleveland State University does not consider applicants’ race in evaluating their qualifications for admission to degree-seeking programs or selecting students to whom we extend an offer of admission.
There is so much more to the story than that, however.
I know for certain the implications extend far beyond our current admissions practices and far beyond what we do here at Cleveland State University. We are first and foremost a learning community, and when the highest court in the land issues a ruling that overturns a 45-year legal practice of affirmative action, we have — for better or worse — a substantial learning opportunity on our hands. Regardless of how one feels about this Supreme Court ruling, there really is no doubt that it fundamentally changes the way we understand and consider the implications of race as it relates to past, present and future access, equity and inclusion in higher education.
Going forward, I believe we must ask ourselves: How does this decision impact all college students? What are the implications for scholarships and financial aid? What does this really mean for fair access and equal opportunity? What are the implications for preparing our future workforce — including future K-12 educators and professors? How do young people of color think about their own educational future in light of this decision? How might this impact race-related programming on college campuses? How do we best remain true to our equity and inclusion aspirations in the wake of this decision?
Stay tuned for more information about a fall semester series of campus conversations and forums about the implications of the Supreme Court decision and our own equity and inclusion efforts across campus.
If you would like to assist with planning these events, please email the Division of Campus Engagement, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at email@example.com
. Our first such forum will be scheduled for September, and we will announce that date soon. Until then, I urge you to learn what you can about this landmark case. There are plenty of opinion pieces, pro and con, that have been written about it. While I have read many of them, I found that taking a couple of hours to read the ruling itself was the most enlightening.
If you really don’t have the time or interest in wading through all 237 pages of the opinion, I recommend this brief summary
on the SCOTUS Blog, which offers independent news and analysis on the Supreme Court.
In her dissenting opinion, Justice Jackson writes, “The only way out of this morass — for all of us — is to stare at racial disparity unblinkingly, and then do what evidence and experts tell us is required to level the playing field and march forward together, collectively striving to achieve true equality for all Americans.”
The decision of the Supreme Court is now the law of the land, and our universities must — and will — abide by the law. At the same time, I agree with Justice Jackson. Until racial disparities no longer persist in our communities, we must stare unblinkingly at those disparities and persist in our efforts to eliminate them.
Here at CSU, we are committed to creating a climate that acknowledges, respects and values all aspects of diversity in our community. To that end, inclusive excellence and engaged learning among diverse groups of students, staff, and faculty are guiding principles for everything we do. This commitment continues.
I very much look forward to working with all of you in the year to come as we double down on our efforts to achieve true equality on campus, in our community, and across our country.