Partnership for College Completion Responds to Supreme Court Decision to Strike Down Affirmative Action, Makes Recommendations on Path Forward

Urges Institutions and Advocates to Fight Back

June 29, 2023


Christian Perry, Director of Policy & Advocacy 

CHICAGO, IL – In the wake of the United States Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action through cases Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina in a 6-2 and 6-3 ruling respectively, the Partnership for College Completion (PCC) remains committed to ensuring racial equity is at the forefront of the work we do in higher education and urges bold action from legislators and institutional stakeholders in the wake of this decision that turns its back on enduring racial inequities within our higher education institutions.

“Simply put, the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action is a step back and will hurt students of color, Black students in particular, who have worked hard to gain access to places of higher learning across our country,” Director of Policy and Advocacy Christian Perry said. “The Partnership urges lawmakers, advocates, and institutions to speak out against this decision and not allow it to hinder our efforts to increase racial and socioeconomic diversity through admissions and financial aid processes, as well as on campus once students are enrolled.”

While affirmative action alone was never enough to dismantle all barriers students of color face in accessing higher education, it was a crucial factor for institutions to consider in admissions decisions and was upheld in a number of cases, including as recently as 2016. As college access and degree completion disparities remain significant between white students and students of color, we must continue to push our institutions and leaders to urgently use every available opportunity to correct these wrongs, even now that the affirmative action decision will add one more obstacle to equity. 

“We don’t have to let an unjust ruling from the Supreme Court determine how we serve our students – we can still transform our institutions to be more racially equitable and representative of the population of our state and nation. From admissions to degree completion, let’s use this moment to work with state policymakers to give institutions the tools they need to create better policies to ensure all of our students can not only access higher education but also obtain their degrees,” Perry said. 

In the wake of this decision to strike down decades of precedent, institutions, and lawmakers will need to be thoughtful in order to maintain and increase racial diversity on our college campuses.

In the coming weeks, PCC and our partners will conduct a more comprehensive analysis to understand the full reach of this ruling, with the understanding that institutions will need to continue to take steps to ensure racial equity is at the forefront of their considerations from application to completion. Institutions can do this by thoughtfully expanding equity considerations and eliminating exclusionary practices in their recruitment, financial aid, and retention efforts, taking concrete steps such as holistic application reviews, and doing away with legacy preferences. Meanwhile, advocates and legislators can take action by holding selective institutions accountable for equitably recruiting and enrolling student populations that are representative of the population of our state and nation, and by providing resources to the colleges and universities that disproportionately enroll students of color.

As the new academic year approaches, the Partnership will continue to speak out in support of efforts to advance racial equity and educate institutional leaders, lawmakers, and advocates on what can be done to ensure racial equity continues to be a policy priority in higher education. 

This summer, PCC will release a policy brief on race-conscious policymaking that will propose approaches for institutions and lawmakers to support increased diversity and equity on our college and university campuses. With the release, PCC will host a panel discussion with local and national experts and advocates to discuss this decision and its implications for state and institutional policy on August 17, 2023, at 12:00 PM CT. To attend the event and ensure you receive this publication, please sign up here


About the Partnership for College Completion

The Partnership for College Completion (PCC) champions policies, practices, and systems that increase college completion and eliminate degree completion disparities for low-income, first-generation, and students of color in Illinois – particularly Black and Latinx students.