In a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has declared that colleges and universities are no longer allowed to consider race as a factor in admissions. The 6-3 decision is the result of the consolidation of two cases: Students for Fair Admissions v University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard College.
This could mean significant changes in the higher education landscape. For more than 20 years, affirmative action has helped foster a diverse student population in order to encourage positive learning experiences. However, with this new ruling, applicants who wish to have their race differences acknowledged will need to voluntarily declare it in their personal essay.
The outcome of this case was divisive, with Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson having to recuse herself due to her ties to Harvard. This ruling could redefine many aspects of college admissions, possibly ending the long-held tradition of affirmative action. Now, universities must begin exploring other ways to create a culturally inclusive campus environment.
Over 20,000 legal cases have been initiated since SFFA was founded in 2014 on behalf of rejected university applicants who claim they were discriminated against due to their race.
In one case, Students for Fair Admissions v Harvard College, Blum acted on behalf of Asian American students who alleged they were unfairly denied acceptance into Harvard due to quota limits imposed on the number of Asian American students accepted each year. Even though Harvard is a private institution, it still receives federal funding and is therefore subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits racial discrimination. Harvard denies this allegation.
In Students for Fair Admissions v University of North Carolina, Blum represented white and Asian American students who had been denied admission to UNC Chapel Hill, asserting that the school had prioritised race in applications and awarded places to underrepresented minorities. Here too, SFFA claims that as a publicly funded university, UNC has breached Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.
Accompanied by over 60 individuals and organisations filing briefs in support of Harvard College and North Carolina University, the tension mounts as the stakes could be detrimental should the ruling favour Students for Fair Admissions. The outcome is yet to be seen but one thing is certain – the world is watching.