Statement on the Supreme Court Ruling in the SFFA v. Harvard and UNC Cases

Melanie Gottlieb |
June 29, 2023
  • AACRAO News
  • Affirmative Action Challenge
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  • Holistic admissions
  • race-conscious
  • supreme court

Today's Supreme Court decisions in the two cases challenging the race-conscious admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina fundamentally alters decades of research-informed professional practice crafted with careful attention to the legal framework developed by previous courts. 

This ruling has a deep impact on the potential degree attainment of learners from racial/ethnic minoritized groups. In the nine states where the consideration of race in admissions has already been banned, it has been shown that the elimination of the consideration of race altogether has a chilling effect on overall underrepresented student enrollment. The decision is disappointing and has significant impacts on institutional practices, but it does not alter the fundamental principles and missions that drive institutions to create opportunity for underserved populations and build diverse classrooms that prepare our country’s learners to engage successfully in a global economy.

AACRAO is committed to inclusivity where all are valued and heard, and respect is expected and achieved. Among the common elements that undergird American higher-education institutions is a nearly universal recognition of the power of student diversity. Until today, Court rulings and federal agency policy have continuously affirmed the essential role that diversity serves in achieving educational missions and outcomes. 

Today’s decision will certainly narrow the principles around which we can legally design holistic admission practices. AACRAO continues to support admission and enrollment management professionals’ ability to fully consider all factors regarding applicants’ accomplishments, aspirations, and promise—including when race has affected their self-identity and experience. We will continue to review the decision and its impacts, and will work closely with our institutions and partners in the higher education community to provide resources and guidance for their efforts to ensure equitable access and outcomes for all learners in ways that are consistent with the law. 

Improving access to higher education is one of the most important investments our nation can make. In a knowledge-based economy where being highly skilled and experienced is valuable currency for success and economic growth, education serves as an accelerant to credential attainment. The nation's continued economic strength and security, as well as the quality of life of its citizens, depends upon increasing both access to and completion of college. It is only when we achieve equitable access to opportunity in our country that we will realize the full potential of our social and economic prosperity for all.

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