The Supreme Court’s ruling in the affirmative action cases could unravel the years of progress the country has made in diversifying college campuses. The decisions in Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina will hinder colleges and universities from considering race in admission decisions, reversing four decades of legal precedent. If history is a guide, we can expect precipitous declines in enrollment among Black and Latino students, particularly at our most selective and well-resourced institutions.
While disappointed by the ruling, we are not deterred. As a foundation committed to advancing racial equity and economic mobility, we see this as a moment to act, not retreat.
To realize the full potential of higher education as a driver of economic mobility, we must remove barriers and build bold and legally permissible policies that support college access and success for students of color. State and institutional leaders can – and should – take steps to protect and improve campus diversity. They can end legacy admissions, make it easier for community college students to transfer to four-year institutions, make college more affordable, and invest more deeply in minority serving institutions.
States and institutions across the Great Lakes region already are taking steps in the right direction. Illinois, Michigan, and Minnesota have invested significantly in need-based financial aid, creating free college programs, which often benefit students of color. Institutions have gone test-optional for admissions and increasingly allocate institutional aid without considering test scores, policies that can help improve access for more students. Meanwhile, advocates, such as Education Trust, Education Reform Now, and The Century Foundation, are exploring innovative policy solutions to get more students of color into and through college.
Despite the progress in diversifying college campuses, we are far from where we need to be and the ruling makes this work all the more important. The Joyce Foundation remains committed to investing in policies and practices that ensure college campuses mirror the nation’s growing diversity. As we chart the path forward alongside institutional leaders, our partners, and grantees, we will do so with a renewed commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for all.
About The Joyce Foundation
Joyce is a nonpartisan, private foundation that invests in evidence-informed public policies and strategies to advance racial equity and economic mobility for the next generation in the Great Lakes region.