The Public Policy mission of NADOHE is to create an awareness of and advocate for diversity issues impacting the educational attainment, access, and success of diverse individuals and communities in higher education and to provide a national forum for the dissemination and open discussion of emerging state and federal policy issues that may have an adverse impact on diverse constituencies.
What does NADOHE offer to the discussion?
At the heart of an effective democracy is an informed and engaged citizenry. The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education [NADOHE] serves the public by bringing robust social science research to bear on contemporary issues related to access, diversity, and inclusion in higher education. In this expert role, NADOHE informs the discourse occurring around the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to hear Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action.
What is Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action Case?
The Supreme Court has recognized the right of public universities to use holistic admissions to build a student body representing diversity in all of it forms, including racial diversity (2003). The central question in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action is whether or not state constitutional amendments such as Michigan’s Proposal 2 (2006) banning the consideration of race as one of many factors in college admissions violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Michigan’s Proposal 2 selectively targets race, sex, color, ethnicity, and national origin, imposing higher burdens on those who wish to advocate for these forms of diversity.
What are the issues in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action?
There are two critical benefits to students that will be restored should the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action prevail in the upcoming Supreme Court hearing in the fall.
The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE)
As the preeminent voice for diversity officers in higher education, NADOHE strongly supports the use of affirmative action in college and university admissions. We do so because the social science evidence is clear - affirmative action in higher education advances equal access to higher education for students from all backgrounds and promotes the educational benefits of learning on diverse college campuses.
The practice of considering race as one of many factors in admission to our nation's colleges and universities was upheld in Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003), where the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the admissions policy of the University of Michigan Law School. In her opinion for the court, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor asserted that the University of Michigan Law School had a compelling interest in promoting diversity within its student body. She argued that universities are the training ground for our nation's leaders and that society as a whole has a stake in diversity on campuses: "In order to cultivate a set of leaders with legitimacy in the eyes of the citizenry, it is necessary that the path to leadership be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity." If U.S. colleges and universities are to remain relevant they should be an active partner in assisting our nation and industry by preparing talented students to live and work in a diverse and multicultural world.
In the Bakke decision, Justice Powell affirmatively addressed the use of race in a "holistic" admissions process by recognizing a constitutional aspect of educational autonomy for universities and colleges in deciding mission, purpose, and practices. Justice Powell stated "the freedom of a university to make its own judgments as to education includes the selection of its student body" Bakke, supra, at 312. Colleges and universities are experts in enrollment management and are purposeful in their selection process and student body makeup. In addition, they fulfill this charge of transmitting knowledge and creating an environment where diversity of thought and perspectives are exchanged by incorporating diversity in the student population. Diversity benefits all students not just racial and ethnic minority students - and higher education has instituted policies and procedures to achieve these goals.
Diversity in higher education must be a national priority if we are to meet the college completion agenda set out by public policy. The Obama administration has set forth ambitious educational attainment goals and has challenged states and higher education institutions to increase students graduating from college. As stated in Race to the Top, "providing a high-quality education to every young American is vital to the health of our nation's democracy and the strength of our nation's economy. In a 21st century world, education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and success - it is a prerequisite." In the race to meet these educational goals, diversity on our college campuses and student body becomes an economic and social imperative for this nation. Education is critical and diversifying higher education is inextricably tied to the social and economic destinies of all Americans. NADOHE stands firm in its support of affirmative action and urges all institutions of higher education to stay determined in making the case that sustains and safeguards diversity.