Massachusetts Issues Guidance to State Colleges on Promoting Diversity in Admissions

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Massachusetts officials offer guidance for promoting diversity in college admissions following the SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action.

On Monday, Massachusetts issued guidance on how state colleges and universities can persist in their efforts to promote equal access and representation in higher education following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on race-conscious admissions.

Gov. Maura Healey and Attorney General Andrea Campbell, both Democrats, issued a joint statement urging both public and private institutions to adopt a “holistic view” of students, moving beyond conventional metrics like grades.

The new state guidance includes steps like considering life experiences and adversity in admissions, auditing current processes — including legacy admissions preferences — for barriers, and supporting students from schools with historically low college-going rates. It also suggests institutions work to improve the process of transferring from community colleges to four-year schools.

The guidance builds off the framework for legally promoting diversity in admissions released by the Biden administration in August following the Supreme Court’s ruling against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which effectively banned the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

“We know there’s been concern and confusion about what is legal and allowable,” Healey said during an announcement at the University of Massachusetts Boston on Monday. “Now, these guidelines make clear every campus’s continued rights and continued opportunities to expand access and advance equity and inclusion on every campus. Because we want you to know, don’t stop doing what you’re doing.”
In response to a question from the media on how to implement these changes, Massachusetts Education Secretary Patrick Tutwiler explained that many colleges and universities have added a question to their application allowing students to discuss how race has impacted their lives. Students are free to share any relevant experiences, and colleges can inquire about these aspects as part of the application process.

“The governor and I both want to be crystal clear and send a signal to our education community and all of you that certain efforts to break down barriers to access and create a safe and supportive school environment are vital, are legal, and can and should continue,” Campbell said at the event.