November 2, 2022
As we prepare for the outcome of the cases before the Supreme Court regarding race-conscious admissions practices, we have insightful information available to keep you up to date and to help you and your institutions organize your readiness efforts.
Prior to the SCOTUS hearings on the SFFA cases, we prepared our Statement on the Importance of Race-Conscious Admissions Practices. Within the statement, we address the impact of race-conscious admissions work and how these practices have been the foundation to making our college campuses more diverse, equitable and inclusive. A diverse campus community is essential for educational experiences and for preparing students for success in an increasingly diverse and global workforce.
NADOHE listened closely on Monday, Oct. 31, as the hearings took place, knowing that a potential outcome could alter college admissions as we know it. Our Statement on the Future of Race-Conscious Admissions Practices explains how the outcomes of these cases will significantly affect access to higher education. A diverse educational learning environment that has resulted in national and global excellence is at stake.
NADOHE President Paulette Granberry Russell met recently with news outlets to discuss the Supreme Court cases, precedent for race-conscious admissions practices, and what all this could mean for the future of diversity in higher education. President Granberry Russell has been quoted in POLITICO, Bloomberg, The Associated Press, and Diverse: Issues in Higher Education. “These institutions that aren’t able to carefully consider race in admissions are falling short even as the country becomes more diverse,” she told Bloomberg’s Kelsey Butler.
In preparation for the SCOTUS hearings, we also hosted part one of our webinar series, “Challenges to Race in Higher Education Admissions: Understanding the Issues before SCOTUS and Institutional Readiness.” Art Coleman, co-founder and managing partner of EducationCounsel LLC, presented. NADOHE Board Member and Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement at the George Washington University Caroline Laguerre-Brown, JD moderated an insightful discussion. A recording of part one is now available.
Coleman provided us with some additional thoughts after the Oct. 31 oral arguments:
The oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court today reflected a rich mix of perspectives and predilections regarding higher education’s consideration of race to achieve the benefits of diversity. The Justices covered a wide array of topics, and didn’t clearly telegraph a certain ruling on any one issue. In broad terms, the Court notably avoided tackling many of the big questions associated with potentially overruling Grutter (SFFA’s principal request). With the exception of Justices Thomas and Alito, the more conservative members of the Court tended to focus on more narrow, discrete questions about time limits for maintaining the consideration of race in admissions, and the viability of certain race-neutral strategies that SFFA claimed that the institutional defendants should have pursued. One major concession made by SFFA’s counsel early in the argument, aligned with its brief, was that the consideration of race as part of a multi-factored holistic review was not objectionable; rather, SFFA’s focus was on eliminating any “classification” or “check-the-box” consideration of race in admissions. That distinction may be of great consequence, if the Court accepts the distinction between consideration of an applicant’s racial “status” (disfavored) and consideration of their authentic identity as reflected in, e.g., essays (acceptable).
Part two of the webinar series will be held November 21, and registration is open. This discussion will address institutional readiness strategies associated with the potential outcomes of both cases, taking a broader look at what is to come and how reshaping institutional DEI efforts in the coming months should be pursued.
We also encourage those dedicated to cultivating more inclusive, anti-racist environments to apply our Framework for Advancing Anti-Racism Strategy on Campus.
NADOHE is not alone in our advocacy that the Court not overturn its prior decisions that permit carefully constructed race-conscious admissions policies. NADOHE joined the amicus brief filed by the American Council on Education, along with 38 other higher education associations.
And though we do not fully know the ramifications and potential consequences of these cases, we mustn't waver in our continued commitment to the importance of racial diversity on campuses.
The National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education (NADOHE) is the preeminent voice for chief diversity officers. As the leader of the national conversation on diversity, equity, and inclusion, it investigates, influences, and innovates to transform higher education so that inclusive excellence lives at its core.