Colorado universities signaled they would modify their approach to diversity goals following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the race-based components of the admissions programs at Harvard College and the University of North Carolina.
Education officials said their commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity and access will not diminish.
But the overarching question facing universities is how.
A statement from the University of Colorado signed by the president and chancellors hints at how the educational system intends to achieve its diversity goals in light of the court’s sweeping conclusion that “eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it.”
“Many universities have for too long wrongly concluded that the touchstone of an individuals identity is not challenges bested, skills built, or lessons learned, but the color of their skin,” the court’s opinion stated. “This Nations constitutional history does not tolerate that choice.”
In response, the university noted that diversity also encompasses demographic characteristics, while also encompassing diverse life experiences and perspectives.
We will continue to employ admission processes that consider the whole student and their ability to succeed in our academically rigorous and supportive environment, the officials said. “Our dedication to cultivating a diverse university community runs deep. In fact, our board has set policy that makes it clear that diversity encompasses demographic characteristics while also encompassing diverse life experiences and perspectives.
In a separate statement, CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano said the court’s decision recognizes that universities may still consider the unique experiences of individual students, which might include how race has affected the applicants life.
Those experiences, he added, can demonstrate an applicant’s unique ability to contribute to the university.
DiStefano was referring to the court’s opinion that said nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicants “discussion of how race affected the applicants life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university.”
CU Boulder, in particular, outlined several approaches to achieve its goals consistent with the principles of the court ruling.
Those approaches include employing admission processes that consider the whole student and their ability to succeed in our academically rigorous and supportive environment; “aggressively” recruiting students from minoritized backgrounds; awarding financial aid to students who demonstrate academic promise and financial need; and, creating a “welcoming living and learning communities.
The university also it would amplify the voices of marginalized communities.
Colorado College leaders took a similar approach.
In a statement signed by President L. Song Richardson and other officials, the college said the decision “does not prevent us from doing what we have always done.”
“We will continue to consider how each students background, strengths, and characteristics contribute to our intellectually stimulating, creative, and unique community. We will continue to admit talented and well-rounded students who think differently, demonstrate courage and resilience, have the enthusiasm to learn within our immersive Block Plan, and seek to collaborate with and learn from diverse communities,” the officials said.
CSU President Amy Parsons sent to campus this morning following the SCOTUS decision on Affirmative Action. Youll also find a statement CSU System Chancellor Tony Frank shared.
Meanwhile, Colorado State University President Amy Parsons sought to reassure students considering going to CSU that the court decision would not effect them.
“This constitutional ban on race-conscious admissions will impact admissions practices at many institutions. Here at CSU, the courts decision will not affect the undergraduate admissions process we have had in place for decades,” Parsons said. “CSUs process assesses the student holistically through a wide range of factors, including personal experiences and academic achievements. At CSU, a public land-grant university, no qualified student is turned away from earning a world class 4-year degree.”
Some faculty members blasted the court ruling, calling the idea of colorblindedness … a complete farce.
Alexi Freeman, associate dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Denver’s law school, said her classroom benefits when people with varying “lived experience” are included. Speaking for herself and not on DU’s behalf, she added that affirmative action has helped institutions reckon with the historical lack of access to educational opportunities some communities have experienced due to racism.
As a woman of color, I cried this morning thinking about the validation of the concept of colorblindness, Freeman said. Colorblindness is a complete farce, but has essentially been sanctioned by this Court. How terrifying and disappointing.
The fallout from the landmark U.S. Supreme Courts 6-3 decision will likely mean a decline in students from historically underrepresented backgrounds, several postulated.
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In the lead up to Thursdays decision by nations highest court, officials at the Colorado Department of Higher Education based that assessment on laws enacted in Michigan and California that prohibited race-based admissions, which resulted in admission declines among racial minorities in those states.
In a University of Michigan amicus brief supporting Harvard University and the University of North Carolina the two universities at the center of the case officials noted that the institute experienced a sharped drop in minority enrollment, with the number of Black students falling by 44% and Native American by 90%.
At least nine states California, Washington, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Idaho have banned affirmative action in college admissions.
in the U.S. reported in 2015 that they considered race in the admissions process, according to BallotPedia.
Its unclear how many Colorado institutions of higher education make race-conscious admissions.
The state doesnt track this, said Megan McDermott, a Colorado Department of Higher Education spokesperson.
Todays Supreme Court decision to end almost all consideration of race in college admissions putting an end to affirmative action in higher education is troubling, disappointing, and will alter the lives of many students of color in pursuit of their dreams and the entire student body that benefits from a diverse student population, Angie Paccione, executive director of the Colorado Department of Higher Education, said in a statement.