Messages to the Community

Today’s Supreme Court Affirmative Action Oral Arguments

A message from Dr. Dwight A. McBride, President and University Professor

Dear New School students and colleagues,

Like many of you, I have spent a great deal of time thinking about the Supreme Court this year and the impact its decisions have on U.S. society. In recent weeks, my thoughts have been focused on two cases for which the Court heard oral arguments today.

I’m referring to the cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill that, when decided, could change the face of affirmative action in this country – challenging decades of progress and potentially rolling back the far from complete work of equal access to higher education.

Personally, I find this prospect deeply disturbing. I have dedicated my life and career to creating space for those who previously have been excluded from certain institutions and to acting as an advocate on their behalf. Ensuring that people from historically underrepresented groups not only have a seat at the table, but also a voice in the conversation, is a deeply held value for me.

As someone who has been a perpetual “first,” I intimately understand the need to provide support for those who will follow me. And within the academy, I know there are unique barriers and challenges to racial equity because of longstanding public prejudices about intellect, education, and race.

This is a key reason that affirmative action is considered in admissions to begin with. Affirmative action is not about exclusion, it is about inclusion – it is about providing a layer of justice and structural integrity in order to help overcome the systemic barriers to achievement that women and people from various races have not only historically faced, but also continue to confront.

We have seen evidence of what happens when universities are prohibited from factoring race into admissions. As The New York Times reported in August, the University of Michigan and the University of California, which have been barred from using affirmative action for more than a decade, have both filed amicus briefs with the Supreme Court stating that they have been unable to properly increase diversity without it.

While we don’t know what the Supreme Court will decide, its recent pattern certainly makes many of us vigilant. Regardless, the path forward at The New School is clear. We remain committed to ensuring an inclusively excellent learning environment—one that is an equitable and socially just environment for all. That commitment is best achieved by bringing together students, staff, and faculty who reflect the diversity of thought, experiences, and identities across our society.

Whatever the Supreme Court decides, our commitment to these values will not change. As one way we are demonstrating this commitment, we have established an Annual Fund for Equity, Inclusion, and Social Justice to help the university catalyze change through teaching, dialogue, scholarship, and creative practice at The New School. Learn more here.

Onward and upward.

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