Ban on Race-Conscious Admissions is a Threat to Democracy and An Assault on Progress to Undo Segregation and Exclusion in Higher Education 

June 29th, 2023
michele update headshot (2)
Michele Siqueiros

A Statement from the Campaign for College Opportunity on Supreme Court rulings in affirmative action cases

In response to the Supreme Court’s decision on Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina (UNC) and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, the Campaign for College Opportunity strongly condemns the decision to ban affirmative action in college admissions:

The Supreme Court ruling to prohibit the use of race-conscious admissions in higher education is a threat to our democracy and an assault on the progress that universities have made to promote racial integration on college campuses. Despite significant progress, too many Latinx, Black, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI), and American Indian/Alaska Native (AIAN) students are shut out from our nation’s top universities and colleges, yet their academic, social, and economic contributions are needed to benefit our economy and strengthen our multi-racial democracy.

Affirmative action was put in place in the mid-1960s as part of civil rights victories, which was essential in a system of higher education that primarily served white men. By banning race-conscious admissions, the Supreme Court has outlawed a powerful tool that has been used to advance the inclusion and integration of Latinx, Black, Asian American, NHPI, and AIAN students in higher education. This decision is a detrimental step backwards for a nation where over half of K-12 students are Latinx, Black, Asian American, NHPI, and AIAN. Despite today’s decision, we refuse to go back to the pre-Civil Rights Era of exclusion, segregation, and unequal opportunity in higher education.

Those who have actively fought against affirmative action and attacked it as a “preference” have never directed their energy on the real preferences that favor wealthy and mostly white Americans, including legacy admissions, recruitment practices, the overuse of standardized tests and so-called merit aid, among others. The Campaign, alongside our allies, will turn our attention to pushing for the dismantling of these practices. We will focus on ensuring that any negative ruling is not an excuse or permission for universities and colleges to return to an era of unchecked exclusion and segregation, which shut out generations of Latinx, Black, Asian American, NHPI, and AIAN students from higher education.

Policymakers and college leaders must remain steadfast in their commitment to close racial and ethnic gaps in college by removing inequitable practices and implementing other proven and comprehensive tools that affirm equal opportunity and level the playing field for Latinx, Black, Asian American, NHPI, and AIAN students in higher education.

We invite you to learn what can be done to advance equitable opportunity and access to higher education for all Americans by joining our first two events under our national initiative, Affirming Equity, Ensuring Inclusion, Empowering Action, which focuses on dismantling inequity in higher education.

On July 13th, legal experts from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) and Education Counsel will provide an overview of the Supreme Court decision and answer questions on the scope of the decision. On July 25th, practitioners and scholars will discuss opportunities for making access to college more equitable, such as holistic review in admissions and ending discriminatory practices, including legacy and standardized testing in admissions.

When over 50% of our nation’s public school children are Latinx, Black, Asian American, NHPI, or AIAN, the future of our country depends on our ability to embrace and celebrate our diversity and ensure that we tap into the talent of all Americans.