Messages to the Community

Today’s Supreme Court Decision on Affirmative Action

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

Dear New School students and colleagues,

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its final decision on two cases brought forward by Students for Fair Admissions against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on affirmative action programs in higher education.

As many experts predicted, the Court’s conservative majority ruled in favor of Students for Fair Admissions, effectively overturning Grutter V. Bollinger, the 2003 decision that permitted the consideration of race as part of a holistic admissions process. I am deeply concerned by this decision, both personally and on behalf of our students—past, present, and future. I know that many of you share this concern. 

In this pair of decisions, the Supreme Court has contended that affirmative action in higher education—which, in these cases, is narrowed to the conscious recognition of race—is unconstitutional. It is difficult to overstate the impact this will have on campuses across the country. For decades, colleges have been able to use admissions as one tool to counteract the pervasive thread of discrimination and white supremacy woven into the fabric of our higher education system and, indeed, our society. The removal of this tool sends the dangerous message that a diverse learning environment is dispensable. I could not disagree more fervently. It is a mission we cannot afford to give up.

Next spring, it will be 70 years since the landmark decision of Brown vs. Board of Education. Like many of you, I am concerned about the dismissal by our nation’s highest court of the values of diversity and inclusion. I am troubled by the recent pattern of Supreme Court decisions that have rolled back hard-won rights for racial minorities, women, and the LGBTQ+ community. And I fear a return to an era that precedes the tremendous work activists have done to fight for these rights, particularly in education. 

But we will not let that happen.

This decision does not change our commitment to inclusion at The New School, nor does it change our belief that a diverse student body is essential to a rich learning experience. Rather, this decision makes these commitments stronger, and the work all the more urgent.

Our work to create a community that reflects the diversity of thought and identities in our society is far from over and demands sustained attention from myself and my colleagues. At the foundation of this work is a fundamental belief in the transformational power of education—and access to education—for individual lives and for the greater good of society. These beliefs have guided the work that I’ve been committed to throughout my career, and they will continue to guide all of us at The New School in our work to keep our university on a path toward greater equity.

The New School will continue to strive to be an inclusive and just institution, one that nurtures progressive minds that will blossom to impact the most pressing issues of our time.

Onward and upward.

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