Affirmative Action Challenge

Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and UNC

America’s higher education institutions have long recognized and cultivated the educational benefits of diversity. Current holistic admissions practices adhere to a legal framework that has grounded diversity efforts for decades. AACRAO believes these practices are instrumental in helping institutions to identify students who are likely to thrive in their educational programs.

There is a long history of case law that supports the use of holistic assessment’s focus on diversity and confirms that colleges and universities have a compelling interest in ensuring student body diversity. As student demographics undergo rapid change, more colleges and universities are looking beyond traditional measures to admit future students. To remove the consideration of non-academic factors is unfair to applicants for whom this is a critical part of their life and would deprive applicants of full and due consideration of their lived experiences.

Up-to-date Guidance

AACRAO encourages members to begin to examine any admissions or recruitment practices that target populations of a specific race as well as their overall holistic/equity admissions practices.

To assist in this process, AACRAO is providing this guidance document to prepare our members for a possible major change in their ability to consider an applicant’s race and ethnicity as part of a holistic/equity review in admissions. 


Webinar: Looking Back, Planning Ahead

On February 2, 2023, AACRAO hosted a webinar that examines the pending U.S. Supreme cases where the central question is whether colleges and universities can continue to consider an applicant’s race and ethnicity as part of the holistic review process in admissions.

View Recording


Supreme Court Takes Up Harvard, UNC Chapel Hill Admissions Cases

Jan 26, 2022, 17:39 PM
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Summary : The outcome of the cases could have broad ramifications for how institutions consider race in their admissions processes.
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The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases brought by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The group alleges both institutions discriminated against Asian American applicants in their admissions processes, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

The outcome of the two cases, which the court consolidated on Monday, could have broad ramifications for how colleges and universities consider race in their admissions process.

The court said it would examine the admissions policies at Harvard and UNC, most probably in the term that begins in October. Lower courts found that both schools complied with Supreme Court precedents that said race may be used as one factor universities can consider in a wide-ranging evaluation of applicants, reported The Washington Post.

In February 2021, SFFA petitioned the Supreme Court to overturn Grutter v. Bollinger, which allows race-conscious admissions in higher education in the interest of achieving student body diversity.

The decision to hear the cases comes at a time when the composition of the Supreme Court differs significantly from the majorities that decided Grutter in 2003 and reaffirmed it in 2016, replacing them with a much more conservative bloc, the Post reported. Challengers argue that the court should overturn those precedents and rule that considerations of race, which aid underrepresented students, violate federal law and the Constitution.

Related Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education 

The Washington Post 

The Chronicle of Higher Education 

Michelle Mott
Categories :
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Advocacy
  • Affirmative Action Challenge
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Holistic Admissions
Tags :
  • Affirmative Action
  • Affirmative Action Challenge
  • Discrimination
  • Diversity
  • in the courts
  • minority students
  • Race
  • race-conscious
  • supreme court
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