Supreme Court oral arguments on race-conscious admissions

To the Williams community,

I write in the wake of yesterday’s oral arguments in two major Supreme Court cases—cases likely to influence our work for diversity in higher education.

At Williams, we consider it part of our mission to attract and educate a community made up of many different kinds of students. Why? Because we know, based on evidence, that such diverse communities tend to produce richer learning opportunities. Because we see, through direct experience, how students benefit from learning in communities that reflect the diverse world into which they will graduate. And because we believe, as part of our mission, that we should offer our educational opportunities to the most diverse range of academically excellent students.

This fall, Williams joined 32 other schools in submitting an amicus curiae brief in the two cases whose oral arguments were heard yesterday: Students for Fair Admissions v. University of NC and Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard. At stake in both is a question with major implications for Williams: Should schools like ours be allowed to positively consider students’ racial identities and associated life experiences as part of the admission process?

Although we now have to wait until spring 2023 for the decisions to be handed down, most experts predict, based on Justices’ past comments and rulings, as well as yesterday’s questions from the bench, that a majority will vote to prohibit the further, positive consideration of race in our work. I encourage you to listen to the full oral arguments to understand the issues for yourself.

In the meantime, I want to take this moment to affirm that Williams supports and will continue to support efforts to recognize our students in their fullest selves, with all the educational benefits that ensue. We will keep working to recruit a diverse, inclusive and academically excellent community through whatever means are legally available to us.

We cannot look back from the vantage point of today to the Williams of 1972 and fail to notice the progress made over the last 50 years. One can only imagine what progress a further 50 years of effort would bring. That is the project to which we must, and will, now recommit ourselves.