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On June 29, 2023, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision in two important cases that addressed the extent to which higher education institutions may consider race as one factor in admissions. Following is a collection of resources that may be helpful in understanding the context and history of this issue, as well as the court’s consideration of the Harvard University and University of North Carolina cases.

Jonas Clark Hall with red Clark banner

Clark Response to the Decision

We unequivocally reaffirm Clark University’s commitment to bringing more diversity into our student body and building a community where our students – faculty and staff, as well – feel they belong and are empowered to succeed. This is core to who we are as an institution, as is our determination to overcome centuries of systemic racism that has been a barrier to higher education for historically underrepresented students.

U.S. Supreme Court Cases

Here you can access all of the docket materials related to both cases, including filings, briefs, procedural documentation, and oral arguments.

Read the Supreme Court decision: Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Harvard University

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. President and Fellows of Harvard College

Opinions, briefs, filing, etc.

Oral argument recording and transcripts

University of North Carolina

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc., v. University of North Carolina, et al.

Opinions, briefs, filing, etc.

Oral argument recording and transcripts

Clark University joined 32 other colleges and universities in signing an amicus brief supporting the positions of Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, arguing that diversity is critical to the academic and student experience.

Affirmative action and the future of college admissions

Overview of the Issues

Explore the history of affirmative action in higher education admissions and what experts predicted could be the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s consideration of past precedent.

Frequently Asked Questions

The SCOTUS considered two cases (Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina) that presented the same question: Can U.S. universities and colleges consider a student’s race as a factor in the admissions process?

Both cases challenged long-standing race-conscious (i.e., affirmative action) admissions practice that has come before and been upheld by the SCOTUS several times, with precedent established in its landmark 2003 Grutter v. Bollinger decision. Clark University feels very strongly that higher education institutions have a responsibility to create opportunity and access for all, and that we all benefit from having a diverse student body. Along with 33 other institutions, Clark signed onto an amicus brief in support of Harvard University’s position arguing for the right to utilize race-conscious admissions policies and practices to diversify our campuses, to provide opportunities for students who are from historically underrepresented groups, and to continually strengthen their institutional diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging values and programming.

We are assessing the potential long-term impact of the decision. Some predict that it could reverse decades of progress that has been made in addressing systemic barriers to higher education for underrepresented and marginalized populations. At Clark, we remain firmly committed to recruiting, retaining, supporting, and graduating a racially and ethnically diverse student body. Certainly, we will work within the legal requirements set forth by the SCOTUS. At the same time, we will look for opportunities to be innovative, creative, and persuasive in presenting our University as a place where BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) students are welcome and will succeed.

As a nation, we should be firmly and fully focused on addressing the systemic deep-seated racism, discrimination, and prejudice that has been prevalent in our society for a very long time. Here at Clark, that is what we intend to do. We are determined to work to make our community more inclusive and to ensure that everyone feels they belong, they are welcome, and they can succeed. We will continue to offer programming and an educational experience that celebrates and informs our campus of the value of having a diverse community.

Clark builds a robust and diverse pipeline of prospective students by conducting outreach and recruiting students from all backgrounds through a number of channels, including partnerships with community-based and access-oriented organizations and being present — virtually and in person — where we can engage with students who represent diverse backgrounds. During the admissions process, we conduct a holistic review of all applications for admission in which we consider many aspects of a prospective student’s background, including, among many factors, their academic record, extracurricular/community engagement, and personal background and story. We assertively work to ensure that all students feel Clark is a place where they would be welcome and included and where diversity is celebrated. We work very hard to ensure that a Clark education is accessible for all and that the entire community benefits from a diverse range of perspectives, including within our student body.

We are assessing the extent to which process and/or programmatic changes are required. Regardless, we are very concerned about the damaging message the SCOTUS decision may send to prospective BIPOC students who are eager to pursue higher education. We intend to work very hard to ensure they know Clark is a place where they will feel a sense of belonging and where diversity is celebrated.

Clark determines most of our financial aid according to need, and that consideration will not change. Clark awards generous merit scholarships for which all prospective students are eligible. Those awards are determined based on the holistic review of an application for admission and will continue to be distributed according to the guidelines of the scholarship.

We will be assessing any programmatic changes that may be required. It is likely that we will have to clarify that while some programming can continue to be geared toward specific identity groups, all are welcome to engage.

We have been intensifying our efforts to address the needs of our students, especially those who identify as BIPOC. We will maintain that commitment.

We will be assessing the implications of the decision. It is likely we will still be able to offer opportunities such as affinity-based housing for a specific identity groups. However, to maintain legal compliance, we will be required to clarify that all are welcome to participate.

Only in that the decision challenges us all to redouble our efforts to create a welcoming environment where our students, faculty, and staff feel they belong and can succeed. This work is more important than ever.

We will be assessing the specific impact of the decision. At this point, we do not anticipate any changes in the area of Human Resources. We will continue to be an equal-opportunity employer and will sustain our efforts to recruit and retain a diverse employee base, placing a high priority on developing a diverse pool of highly qualified candidates for faculty and staff positions.

As a reminder, we include the following in recruitment for all faculty and staff positions:

Clark University embraces equal opportunity as a core value: we believe that cultivating an environment that embraces and promotes diversity is fundamental to the success of our students, our employees and our community. This commitment applies to every aspect of education, services, and employment policies and practices at Clark. Our commitment to diversity informs our efforts in recruitment, hiring and retention. All positions at Clark share in the responsibility for building a community that values diversity and the uniqueness of others by exhibiting integrity and respect in interacting with all members of the Clark community to create an atmosphere of fairness and belonging. We strongly encourage members from historically underrepresented communities to apply.

We are deeply troubled by the anti-DEI policies that have been promoted and implemented in several states around the country. While we’ve not yet encountered anti-DEI proposals here in Massachusetts, and our status as a private institution affords us some independence from politically motivated policies of this kind, we will remain a strong voice in support of diversity and programs/initiatives to address systemic racism and prejudice.