President Bollinger on Affirmative Action and the Supreme Court

What the Supreme Court's decision to hear challenges to affirmative action at Harvard and the University of North Carolina means for higher education.

January 24, 2022

With the Supreme Court’s decision today to once again examine the constitutionality of considering race among multiple factors contributing to admissions decisions, we must be mindful of what has always been at stake in these cases. What benefits accrue to university and college education, and to American society, as a result of racially diverse student bodies? And what is the cost to the vibrancy of our campuses and to higher education if that diversity is diminished or lost?

It would be calamitous for universities and for the ideals embodied in the Constitution, if the Court were to repudiate the moral imperatives of our nation’s history and renounce the relationship between educational access and racial justice prevailing since Brown v. Board of Education changed the country more than six decades ago. Broad public awareness of the unrelenting impact of racism demands a recommitment to affirmative action, not its abandonment.

—Lee C. Bollinger