On October 31, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two cases about the consideration of race in college admissions: SFFA v. UNC and SFFA v. Harvard. These two cases were heard separately, and the audio recordings and transcripts can be found here: Harvard and UNC. We expect the Court’s decision any day now.
What is at issue?
The opportunity for admissions professionals to fully consider an applicant’s race, which may include how their race affects their self-identity and experience.
How would this affect our admissions process at Salus?
At Salus, our programs’ admissions processes are unaware of race up to the required interview. While race is not a factor specific to our admissions process, we are conscious of our desire to maintain and increase our racial/ethnic diversity, as we believe in equity in access to graduate/professional education, and our commitment to providing an inclusive community where belonging is our outcome for all.
What are the potential broader implications?
While Salus' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion provides us with the flexibility to not have to consider race in admissions, we do understand, however, that some institutions need to consider race as a tool to ensure campus diversity. We further understand that a ruling against the inclusion of race in admissions to a “race-neutral” admissions era, will likely affect all of higher education with the potential to impact institutional autonomy and the implementation of educational missions. And while both these cases specifically deal with race in admissions, the outcome of the decision has the potential to impact our race-based scholarships, pipeline and enrichment programs. My field of diversity, equity and inclusion, is concerned that our positions, offices and the important work we do will be further questioned and, ultimately, could even be eliminated, which will greatly impact curriculum, training for faculty and staff, programs and initiatives, and an overall sense of community and belonging.
As stated by the College Board, “America’s higher education institutions have long recognized and cultivated the educational benefits of diversity. And, for over four decades, [the Supreme Court] has recognized the essential role that diversity serves in achieving educational missions and outcomes.” Thus, we can only hope that the Supreme Court will continue to uphold the inclusion of race in admissions, as a diverse student body benefits us all…through diversity of thought, problem-solving, innovation, and overall community composition. No matter the decision, we have to continue to speak up and out as diversity advocates and champions.
Hoping for Justice for Just-Us (all of us),
Special Assistant to the President for DEI