EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Reaction is pouring in from local leaders, colleges and universities after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned affirmative action in college admissions, ruling that race cannot be a factor in the decision process.
Here are the statements 12 News has received so far:
“Bryant University has a long-standing commitment to serve and provide access and opportunity in education and toward career success to all students. It is an important part of a Bryant education for our students to engage and learn with people from different backgrounds and with different lived experiences.
“Today’s Supreme Court ruling ends race-conscious admissions in higher education. These policies played a significant role in promoting broader access both on campuses and in society. Our entire community benefits from a focus on strong and diverse access to educational and economic opportunity. As a nationally recognized economic mobility champion, our institutional commitment to this will continue. Over the coming weeks, we will assess the full impact of the Supreme Court decision. We will use the tools and practices available under the law to ensure each applicant’s and student’s unique strengths and experiences are valued and respected.”
“CCRI is committed to fostering a welcoming and inclusive environment for individuals from all racial and ethnic backgrounds. We are dedicated to cultivating a teaching and learning environment that deeply values our students’ rich and unique perspectives. Our steadfast commitment to affirmative action is integral to advancing equitable opportunities and ensuring that every member of our community has equitable access to education and resources. This commitment remains unwavering regardless of today’s Supreme Court decision.”
Johnson & Wales University
“Johnson & Wales University has been and continues to be committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion; those values are embedded in our mission and guiding principles. We welcome and celebrate the diversity of our student body. We foster an equitable and inclusive environment where all members of our Wildcat community are valued and supported, and we will continue doing so.”
PC President Fr. Kenneth Sicard:
“While we will modify our processes and procedures to comply with the law, we will not waver in our commitment to creating a community that mirrors the diversity of the Church. This is a fundamental ideal at the heart of our Catholic and Dominican mission, the contemporary expression of the principles upon which PC was founded more than a century ago. I have said many times that the meaningful embrace of diversity is an important priority, and today’s disappointing news only serves to strengthen that resolve.
“A working group led by Dean of Admission and Financial Aid Raul Fonts has been planning in anticipation of this ruling since January, and we are prepared to adjust as required. We will provide more specific information on PC’s response as our plans come into sharper focus after evaluating the details of the Court’s decision. In the meantime, I offer my prayers and best wishes to each of you, along with my thanks for your commitment to Providence College and its students.”
Roger Williams University
RWU President Loannis Miaoulis:
“The mission of Roger Williams University is to foster a diverse student body, faculty and staff and to ensure a sense of belonging, inclusion and a thriving community that values and respects diverse perspectives and ideas. While we will abide by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, the decision does not change who we are and the diverse educational community we aspire to be. RWU remains committed to recruiting and supporting a diverse student community, and we will continue to uphold our values and commitments in our efforts to become an antiracist university.”
Salve Regina University
“Salve Regina University believes strongly that a diverse and inclusive society is critical for the success of Rhode Island and our nation.
“At Salve, we utilize a holistic review process for admission to the University. We assess all aspects of a student’s application including the strength of their academic transcript, special talents, writing, aspirations, leadership qualities, and the uniqueness of their individual perspectives. We recognize that diversity plays a role in shaping these experiences; however, we do not make admissions decisions on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.
“Central to our mission is the creation of an inclusive educational environment for every person in our community.”
“Today, the United States Supreme Court released its decision in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. (SFAI) v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and SFAI v. University of North Carolina, et al. The court’s decision holds that race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and UNC violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.
“The University of Rhode Island does not consider race as a deciding factor for admission. The University is reviewing the court’s ruling for any possible influence on other existing University programs.
“The court’s decision notwithstanding, the University of Rhode Island is committed to fostering an inclusive, people-centered culture. URI is—and will continue to be—an institution that values and advances diversity, equity, and inclusion; celebrates the uniqueness of its members; and cultivates a sense of community where all members find themselves included and their work valued.”
“University system officials are working with the Provosts and Admissions Directors on the five UMass campuses to assess how the University’s admissions processes may be influenced by these changes to the law. The University of Massachusetts will continue to follow the law, and will do so while sustaining its deep and longstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We believe this is essential to the advancement of academic excellence and critical to the preparation of our students to succeed in a global economy.”
Local leaders and organizations
RI Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos
“This decision is a blow to every student of color striving for an opportunity and sets back efforts to address generations of inequality.
“Justices Sotomayor and Jackson’s well-written dissents decrying the backward logic of this decision are a reminder of why we need women of color in every place where decisions are made—starting with our schools.”
Mass. Gov. Maura Healey and Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll
“Massachusetts will always be welcoming and inclusive of students of color and students historically underrepresented in higher education. Today’s Supreme Court decision overturns decades of settled law. In the Commonwealth, our values and our commitment to progress and continued representation in education remain unshakable.
“We will continue to break down barriers to higher education so that all students see themselves represented in both our public and private campus communities. Massachusetts, the home of the first public school and first university, will lead the way in championing access, equity, and inclusion in education.
“We want to make sure that students of color, LGBTQ+ students, first generation students, and all students historically underrepresented in higher education feel welcomed and valued at our colleges and universities. Today’s decision, while disappointing, will not change our commitment to these students. We have an imperative to make sure our schools reflect our communities. Our academic competitiveness, the future of our workforce, and our commitment to equity demand we take action.”
Association of Independent Colleges RI
“As institutions with long-standing commitments to serve all students, AICU Rhode Island members are disappointed by the Supreme Court’s ruling effectively ending race-conscious admissions in higher education. These policies relied on forty years of legal precedent in playing a crucial role in combating racial inequality and promoting equity both on campuses and in society.
“A college education should be an experience in which students are exposed to new ideas and meet people with backgrounds and experiences different from their own. Race is just one of many factors considered in the admissions process that constructs a diverse student body that learns from one another.
“While it is the primary goal of institutions of higher education to ensure the education of the individual, colleges and universities also share a mission to make American society a more equitable one, ensuring the next generation of educated professionals is reflective of our country as we seek to address historical injustice and create a more equitable future.
“As independent, nonprofit institutions of higher education, the mission and values of each member are reflected in its admissions processes, and member institutions will continue to keep diversity front of mind in their admissions processes and use all tools and practices still available under the law to ensure each applicant’s unique strengths and experiences are considered when admitting students.”
“The NAACP Providence Branch echoes the sentiments of our National President & CEO Derrick Johnson and Director Wisdom Cole as we stand firmly with our National Office in a collective effort to make clear, affirmative action exists to ensure diversity, equity, and inclusion, and shall not be overlooked during the admissions and hiring processes. The NAACP Providence Branch will not be discouraged by this decision, we will continue to speak out against the racial injustices brought upon the majority of kind hearted citizens of this country by the insensitive
cowardly beliefs by the extremist minority who aim to set our great nation back decades. Both leading locally and in support nationally, the Providence Branch will hold all institutions and employers accountable to their respective roles in embracing diversity, equity, and inclusion, and to using all the tools possible to address historical atrocities that have hampered the progress of African Americans and other people of color in this country.”
“The 1952 Brown v. Board of Education case in which the Court decided that the “separate but equal” standards of racial segregation were unconstitutional, paved the way for the Civil Rights Act 1964, equal education under the law, and affirmative action of 1978 . Brown v. Board of Ed. was the case that overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case in which the court ruled separate but equal was constitutional. We present this abridgment of history because we feel today’s decision by the SCOTUS has the potential to set a precedent that could overturn the Brown v. Board of Education setting our nation back decades.”
“The opinion of Justice Thomas, who claims Historically Black Colleges and Universities do not embrace diversity, is unfounded, appalling, and highly inappropriate to suggest. Justice Thomas’ rationale has the potential to undo decades of precedent and set our country back to a time where racial inequity ruled the day. Evidence of these extremist Conservative Republican ideals can be found in Florida under the watchful eye of Governor DeSantis who’s slowly trying to reintroduce practices that will deny black people access to advanced studies of our history.”
“The NAACP Providence Branch condemns the decision by the Supreme Court of the United States and all action that go against the vision and mission of the NAACP, our Partner, and entities that share in our endeavor to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.”
Sen. Jack Reed, D-Rhode Island
“We have a commitment in this country to all of our citizens and giving everyone a chance. Diversity strengths our nation because it fuels innovation and competitiveness and fortifies our democracy.”
“Today, the Supreme Court turned its back on precedent. Scrapping affirmative action means fewer underrepresented students in higher education and in the leadership pipeline to the boardroom and halls of power.”
“I agree with Justice Sotomayor’s dissent that this ruling “rolls back decades of precedent and momentous progress.“
“Despite this setback, we must reaffirm our national commitment to keeping the doors of higher education open to all with the talent and drive to succeed.”
Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts
“It’s been nearly 50 years since Brown v. Board of Education made clear that education ‘is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.’ Yet, today, the Supreme Court made it more difficult for students of color to achieve their educational dreams. The Supreme Court majority may think they are blind to race, but what they are truly blind to is inequality, blind to injustice, blind to progress.
“The realities of racial injustice are woven into every part of our society, yet the far-right, extremist majority on the Court is forcing colleges and universities to minimize the importance of diversity and equity among their student bodies. Considering race in college admissions is a key tool for diversifying campuses, increasing equity and fairness, and strengthening our education system with different perspectives and lived experiences. Operationally, ignoring inequality is ignoring race, whether that be in admissions, in our larger educational system, or in society.
“Equal opportunity for all is a bedrock, universal value in our country. We cannot allow this captured Supreme Court majority to turn back the clock on progress. Congress must act. We must make sure we continue to hold the doors of opportunity open to all. We must give people the just and equal opportunity to achieve their educational dreams. We must expand the Supreme Court and return legitimacy and balance back to the same institution that rightly ruled that education – and justice – should be made available to all on equal terms.”