Affirmative Action Challenge and Supreme Court Guidance

Supreme Court Cases: Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and UNC

America’s higher education institutions have long recognized and cultivated the educational benefits of diversity. AACRAO believes holistic admissions practices are instrumental in helping institutions to identify students who are likely to thrive in their educational programs.

We will continue our efforts in support of equitable access to education. Our meetings, workshops, and digital platforms will continue to have space for institutions to work towards confronting implicit bias and addressing systemic inequities. We will provide support to institutions as they reframe their admissions plans in light of this legislation, while ensuring that the successes of minoritized students are not set back. And we will work to ensure that data-informed processes are built to develop and improve student support and programming. 

Read our statement on the rulings to learn more. 


The Supreme Court Speaks: Understanding the Implications of Race-Conscious Admission Decision

3:00-4:30 PM ET | JULY 19, 2023

AACRAO, NACAC, NASFAA have joined together to present a webinar on the SFFA v Harvard and UNC cases. This webinar will provide attendees with a streamlined, practical analysis of two recent U.S. Supreme Court cases challenging race-conscious admission policies: Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC.

Register Now

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

AACRAO Process Examination Guidelines

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. 



UNC Affirmative Action Case Heats Up

Jan 24, 2019, 11:39 AM
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Summary : The other legal battle over race-conscious admissions policies takes center stage as advocacy group accuses Chapel Hill of giving "significant racial preferences" to underrepresented minority applicants.
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In a new federal court filing, Students for Fair Admissions, the advocacy group challenging race-conscious admissions policies, accused the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of giving "significant racial preferences" to underrepresented minority applicants while ignoring race-neutral alternatives for achieving diversity, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

In its motion for summary judgment, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) argued that UNC unfairly uses race "to ensure the admission of the vast majority of underrepresented minorities" in violation of the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The advocacy group filed federal lawsuits in 2014 against Harvard University and UNC, accusing both universities of going beyond what the Supreme Court has allowed when considering race in admissions.

Last fall, Harvard officials stood witness in a three-week trial in Boston that examined whether the university limits Asian American applicants to make space for students of other races. Now, the UNC case is heating up with both SFFA and the institution filing briefs in the case, outlining for the first time in detail their takes on the issues at Chapel Hill.

UNC, in its motion for summary judgment, rejected SFFA's claims, stating that the educational benefits of diversity are critical to its educational mission, the Chronicle reported. "The undisputed material facts," its filing says, "demonstrate that the university's admissions approach is constitutionally sound." The university also stated that it had "rigorously assessed" race-neutral strategies, yet concluded that none of them would produce desirable results.

By filing motions for summary judgment, both parties argued that the judge should rule in their favor based on their written filings, instead of holding a trial.

Meanwhile, the closely watched Harvard University case could come to a halt this week, as federal courts only have enough funds to operate until the end of the month, Politico reported. The Judiciary is one of the agencies currently shut down, but has been managing in part on court fee balances. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for next month.

Related Links

The Chronicle of Higher Education


Michelle Mott
Categories :
  • Admissions and Recruitment
  • Advocacy
  • Affirmative Action Challenge
  • Competencies
  • Diversity and Inclusion
  • Enrollment Goals
  • Holistic Admissions
Tags :
  • Affirmative Action
  • Affirmative Action Challenge
  • in the courts
  • Race-Neutral
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