Jun 30, 2023 - Education

How affirmative action ruling will impact North Texas universities

Illustration of a speech bubble with a gavel coming down on a speech bubble with a graduation cap.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Thursday that colleges can't explicitly consider applicants' race in admissions is likely to change local universities' approach to the process.

Why it matters: The landmark ruling overturning more than 40 years of precedent will radically transform the admissions process at many public and private universities, forcing them to reevaluate how to maintain a diverse student body, Axios' Erin Doherty and April Rubin report.

Catch up fast: The conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions argued that the admissions processes at Harvard and the University of North Carolina discriminate against white and Asian American applicants while giving a little extra weight to applicants from certain underrepresented groups.

  • The conservative-majority Supreme Court ruled 6-3 against the admissions processes at both universities, deciding that diversity is no longer a compelling interest under the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.

The other side: The court's liberal justices argued in a dissenting opinion that educational opportunity is a prerequisite to racial equality in the U.S.

Between the lines: Universities across the country were already preparing for the possibility that the Supreme Court would end affirmative action.

Zoom in: SMU and TCU consider race in the admissions process, per the Texas Tribune, while Baylor and UNT do not.

  • SMU president R. Gerald Turner said in a statement that the university needs time to analyze the ruling's impact on the school's practices.
  • "Our community is enriched by a broad range of differences on our campus and in our classrooms. … This diversity, woven into the academic excellence of SMU, serves as a catalyst for our students to be culturally intelligent and excel as critical thinkers and compassionate citizens," Turner said.

What they're saying: Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, who filed an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs against UNC and Harvard, called the ruling "a tremendous victory for those who have suffered from explicit racial discrimination."

  • "The Supreme Court has effectively taken our country back decades and robbed students of color of meaningful opportunities for academic, economic, and societal advancement," U.S. Rep. Jasmine Crockett, a Democrat representing parts of Dallas and Tarrant counties, said in a statement.

Meanwhile: Texas' public colleges are in the process of evaluating their diversity, equity and inclusion programming to comply with a new state law banning DEI offices on their campuses. The law goes into effect Jan. 1.

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