Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. Harvard College

On June 29, 2023, the United States Supreme Court in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College held that the challenged race-conscious admissions practices violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and therefore must end. The decision represents a significant change from prior law and requires a new mindset among higher education with respect to the use of race when making admissions decisions.

Importantly, race cannot be a factor in an institution’s admissions decisions.

East Carolina University will comply with the Court’s decision and the Directives Regarding Implementation of Students for Fair Admissions Decision issued by the UNC System Division of Legal Affairs in August 2023.

Key Takeaways Effective Immediately

  • An applicant’s race or ethnicity shall not be considered in an admissions decisions process or any other selection process that awards a material benefit (e.g., scholarships).  Accordingly, racial and ethnic data should be firewalled from anyone making admissions decisions, and the practice of collecting racial or ethnic data of applicants should cease as soon as practicable.
  • Admissions processes must not be designed to achieve racial or ethnic diversity.  Aggregate targets of racial composition are prohibited.
  • No proxies for race or ethnicity may be used.   Any changes to approaches to selection or admissions processes must be instituted to achieve a race-neutral goal, in addition to using race-neutral means.
  • Essays and interviews are not exceptions.  An applicant must be “treated based on his or her experiences as an individual—not on the basis of race.”