Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled that colleges and universities could not take race into consideration for granting admission. As the Chief Executive Officers for the North Orange County Community College District, Cypress College, Fullerton College, and North Orange Continuing Education, we believe that this decision overturns a long-standing precedent that ensures under-represented students not only have access to the benefits provided by higher education but also receive much-needed support to succeed.
More specifically, this ruling ignores decades of evidence showing positive outcomes enabled by affirmative action and overturns important legal precedents that protect our students.
We agree with Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the only Latina on SCOTUS, who wrote in the dissenting opinion that “equal educational opportunity is a prerequisite to achieving racial equality in our Nation.”
Our students, employees, and communities should know that we will not allow such a decision to derail or have a negative impact on our continued support for educating and empowering those who have traditionally been underrepresented in higher education and positions of influence and leadership.
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the first Black woman on SCOTUS, noted that “…deeming race irrelevant in law does not make it so in life. Gulf-sized race-based gaps exist with respect to the health, wealth, and well-being of American citizens. Every moment these gaps persist is a moment in which this great country falls short of actualizing one of its foundational principles – the ‘self-evident’ truth that all of us are created equal.”
As a reminder, race based admissions have been unlawful for California’s public colleges and universities since the state’s voters banned it more than twenty-five years ago, back in 1996 with the passage of Prop 209. Even so, the affirmative action debate continues to be divisive along racial and political lines. Our students, employees, and communities should know that we will not allow such a decision to derail or have a negative impact on our continued support for educating and empowering those who have traditionally been under-represented in higher education and in positions of leadership.
We are proud that community colleges have always served, and will continue to serve, all students seeking a better future through education. As a major transfer institution in the state of California, particularly for students of color, the North Orange County Community College District and its educational institutions have fully committed to being welcoming and inclusive equity-minded, anti-racist learning environments where diverse students are supported to pursue and attain success. As stated in Resolution No. 20/21-22, Affirming the North Orange County Community College District’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Anti-Racism we hereby strongly reaffirm “our support for diversity in faculty and staff hiring; diversity among faculty, students, staff, and programs; and expect everyone in the District community, through their roles and responsibilities, to implement the District’s diversity initiatives and maintain a climate of respect, civility, anti-racism, and inclusion as part of the institution’s commitment to educational excellence.”
Dr. JoAnna Schilling
President, Cypress College
Dr. Cynthia Olivo
President, Fullerton College
Dr. Byron D. Clift-Breland