In response to the Supreme Court’s decision effectively striking down race-conscious admissions, Harvard leadership affirmed the University’s commitment to diversity while declaring it would abide by the ruling.
The Court’s 6-2 decision, released Thursday morning, restricted affirmative action in higher education admissions and ruled Harvard’s race-conscious admissions practices unconstitutional — a major setback for the University. The ruling comes following years of scrutiny towards Harvard’s admissions practices, beginning when anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions filed its first suit in 2014.
Harvard’s public response to the decision came an hour after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
In a joint statement, Harvard’s top brass reaffirmed the University's commitment to “the fundamental principle that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and research depend upon a community comprising people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences.”
The statement — jointly signed by outgoing University President Lawrence S. Bacow, President-elect Claudine Gay, Provost Alan M. Garber ’76, Executive Vice President Meredith Weenick, and the 15 University deans — stated that Harvard “will certainly comply with the Court’s decision.”
In a press release, Edward J. Blum, president of Students for Fair Admissions, the anti-affirmative action group that brought the suit to the Supreme Court, threatened further litigation if Harvard and the University of North Carolina — the other defendant in the lawsuit — ignore the Court’s ruling.
“We remain vigilant and intend to initiate litigation should universities defiantly flout this clear ruling and the dictates of Title VI and the Equal Protection Clause,” he stated.
In the immediate aftermath of the decision, UNC Chancellor Kevin M. Guskiewicz released a statement reasserting the university’s commitment to “bringing together talented students with different perspectives and life experiences and continues to make an affordable, high-quality education accessible to the people of North Carolina and beyond.”
The message was then followed by another statement from David L. Boliek Jr., chairman of the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees. Both statements confirmed that UNC will also comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.
In a brief video message, Gay echoed the joint Harvard statement, emphasizing Harvard’s commitment to diversity and opportunity.
“For many, this decision feels deeply personal. It makes real the possibility that opportunities will be foreclosed, but at Harvard it has also strengthened our resolve to continue opening doors,” Gay said.
Gay said the University will dedicate the coming weeks to “working to understand the decision and its implications for our policies.”
“While we don’t have all the answers about what’s next, we do know that we will move forward together,” she added.
The Thursday joint statement also noted that the Court’s decision still allows universities to factor an individual applicant’s reflections on how race has impacted their life in the admissions process. The University has not yet confirmed any changes to its admissions practices.
“In the weeks and months ahead, drawing on the talent and expertise of our Harvard community, we will determine how to preserve, consistent with the Court’s new precedent, our essential values,” the statement from University leadership reads.
“To our students, faculty, staff, researchers, and alumni—past, present, and future—who call Harvard your home, please know that you are, and always will be, Harvard,” they wrote. “Nothing today has changed that.”
—Staff writer Claire Yuan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @claireyuan33.