In advance of the October 31 oral arguments at the U.S. Supreme Court in the cases Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, which both focus on the 40-year precedent permitting race-based affirmative action in higher education, The Century Foundation President Mark Zuckerman and Director of Higher Education Excellence Robert Shireman released the following statement:

“Race-conscious admissions programs are a critical tool to advance equity and widen opportunity in higher education—something that the U.S. Supreme Court has affirmed time and again over the years. Research shows that having a diverse student body makes institutions stronger and is central to fulfilling a school’s educational mission. There is simply no denying that race is a key factor in shaping a young person’s life and experiences, and that ignoring one’s race excludes a core part of a student’s identity.

“There already exists affirmative action in higher education—it’s just affirmative action for the rich and well-connected. Elite universities today remain enclaves of privilege, disproportionately enrolling students from white and wealthy backgrounds. Allowing the use of race-conscious admissions policy helps to level the playing field, ensuring that students of color and low-income students have the same opportunities as others.

“The Court’s decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which held that colleges and universities could consider race as part of their admissions processes, was the correct decision. The current Court should follow decades of its own precedent and uphold what both a district court and federal appeals court found: that race-conscious admissions policies are not only lawful, but an essential part of fostering diverse, equitable, and high-quality higher education institutions.”

To speak with Mark or Robert about the upcoming cases, contact [email protected].