The Supreme Court of the United States, in a much-awaited decision, vacated a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that had upheld the race-conscious admissions policy at the University of Texas at Austin.
In a 7 to 1 decision, the Supreme Court held that the Fifth Circuit should not have presumed that the university had made a good-faith effort to consider alternative admissions policies that do not consider race. In the words of Justice Kennedy, “Strict scrutiny does not permit a court to accept a school’s assertion that its admissions process uses race in a permissible way without a court giving close analysis to the evidence of how the process works in practice.”
What does the decision mean for Brandeis University, an institution founded on principles of diversity and inclusion and committed to social justice?
We believe that Brandeis has a compelling interest in admitting and educating a diverse student body. Race and ethnicity, religion and culture, gender and socioeconomic background are important threads that contribute depth and richness to the tapestry of a Brandeis education. The educational benefits of learning from and along with a diverse set of your peers are increasingly important to producing the skills needed to succeed in our increasingly global and multiethnic society.
For now, the Supreme Court’s decision means that we are confident that our approach to seeking diversity in our classes is fully consistent with the principles outlined in the 2003 ruling on Grutter v. Bollinger. That ruling upheld consideration of race as one factor in a holistic consideration of individual applicants.
This is not a final answer. We will watch the progress of this case with great attention and interest, but for now Brandeis will proceed with the exacting and careful admissions policies and practices that produce the splendid student body we are proud to have.