On the Supreme Court Ruling

Dear friends,

Today’s Supreme Court decision on the consideration of race in college admissions is extremely disappointing. Appealing to a principle of “color-blindness” at odds with history and law, the Court’s conservative majority says “trust us” while it imposes its will on higher education’s admission policies.

Wesleyan remains deeply committed to admitting a class of students that will lead to a diverse learning community on our campus. By using a reductive sense of how race is dealt with in college admissions, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court has challenged the University’s ability to select and enroll a racially diverse class.

The University is encouraged, however, that the Court has recognized the importance of considering race as a factor impacting the lived experience of an applicant. As the Court ruled, “all parties agree, nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” 

Wesleyan has never simply looked at the box students checked when considering their racial background. We take an individualized, holistic view of an applicant’s lived experience, through their essays, letters of recommendation, and interactions with our community. Our decision to admit a student is based on diverse facets of the individual’s history, talent, and potential. Applicants’ achievements and promises are carefully considered in the context of their respective schools, communities, and personal circumstances.

The liberal arts education we offer is stronger because our campus community is built on a dynamic array of socioeconomic, religious, intellectual, geographic, and racial diversity. Asking people to consider ideas and experiences that might challenge their own preconceptions is a crucial step towards helping individuals become engaged citizens leading lives of purpose.

We are studying the decision to better understand how we can comply with the law while pursuing our mission. We are determined to create a diverse community, and our admission and financial aid teams have been preparing over the last several months to craft policies that will do that. While our ability to do this work has been undermined by today’s ruling, our values are unwavering. We will follow up later this summer with updates and news of Wesleyan’s specific plans for moving forward in the wake of this decision.


Michael S. Roth ’78, President

Amin Abdul-Malik Gonzalez ’96, Vice President and Dean of Admission and Financial Aid

1 thought on “On the Supreme Court Ruling”

  1. President Roth,

    It is easy to understand your opinion, but for me the decision was not “extremely disappointing,” or even “disappointing.” To me, at WESU in the 1960’s, if there was any discrimination, it was subtle, but against blacks (I’m not at all sure of that, but our tilt toward blacks did not tilt until later).

    I sincerely felt positive when the US Constitution was amended to say “No discrimination based on race.” But to me, it is improper to discriminate based on race to satisfy past practices in any way.

    How would I argue that: via California. They ran politically into the same quandary with, I think, a man named Bakke, and changed their state constitution to also say “No discrimination based on race.” Almost a decade later, extreme liberal politicians created a referendum to repeal that prior positive declaration. My impression – an extremely liberal population said “No way,” and they voted to retain a State Constitution to say “No discrimination based on race.”

    We should work to be absolutely non discriminatory, and to recruit as wide of a range of individual talent in all aspects of life – but to me those are decisions based on individual talent, effort, and potential, and where we view all races or sex equally.

    Clyde Beers

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