Civil Rights Groups Offer Recommendations for Equitable Admissions After SCOTUS Ruling

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Six civil rights groups released a comprehensive report Monday with recommendations for advancing educational equity following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ban on race-conscious admissions in higher education.

The report was co-sponsored by the Legal Defense Fund (LDF), Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Asian Americans Advancing Justice – AAJC, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), LatinoJustice PRLDEF, and the Asian American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Drawing on the expertise of these civil rights organizations, the report examines the legal history of affirmative action in higher education and assesses the Supreme Court’s rulings in the Students for Fair Admissions cases. It also explores the potential racial justice implications of the affirmative action ban and offers recommendations for promoting educational equity in the wake of the Court’s decision.

“Regardless of the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision, colleges and universities must do all they can to ensure equitable educational opportunities,” said Jin Hee Lee, director of strategic initiatives at LDF, in a statement. “This report provides a blueprint for those in higher education to advance racial equity and foster a diverse learning environment.”

To advance racial equity in higher education, the organizations suggest that colleges and universities:

  • Comply with anti-discrimination legislation. Educational institutions must adhere to federal and state laws that prohibit discrimination based on race or ethnicity. It is crucial for schools to ensure that their policies and practices align with these legal requirements.
  • Reimagine admissions criteria. Schools should revamp their admission procedures by adopting holistic approaches that assess applicants’ potential, taking into consideration the disparities in resources and opportunities they have experienced during their K-12 education. Furthermore, institutions should critically assess their admission prerequisites, policies, and procedures to eliminate any unfair or unnecessary obstacles to access.
  • Expand recruitment efforts and nurture pipelines: Educational institutions should devise innovative strategies to attract students from underserved communities. This involves creating tailored outreach programs for students who cannot physically visit the campus, establishing robust pipelines for students across all age groups, and investing in and compensating historically underrepresented students and alumni who can act as ambassadors for the school.
  • Foster an inclusive campus environment: Achieving equity in higher education necessitates cultivating a healthy and inclusive campus climate that benefits all students, especially those who have been historically marginalized or underrepresented.

“The Supreme Court decision restricting the freedom of colleges and universities to use affirmative action does not mean schools should waver in their commitment to diversity and opportunity or retreat from their obligation to address persistent racial inequalities,” said ReNika Moore, director of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program, in a statement. “Colleges can still consider race in alternative ways and students can continue to discuss race and how it has shaped their character or unique abilities in the college admissions process.”