Diversity & Democracy: Civic Learning for Shared Futures
Diversity Innovations Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Diversity Digest Volume 7, Number 3

Diversity Digest
Volume 7,
Number 3

Download our print issue (PDF)
Diversity News
Diversity and Democracy:
the Unfinished Work
Dimensions of Diversity: Legal Lessons from the Decisions
Institutional Leadership and Commitment
Longhorn Scholars and the Opportunity Scholarship Program
Bridging the Gap: The ACE Program in Arizona
Aimed for Success: Meyerhoff Scholars Program
Campus Community Involvement
UCLA’s Success in Reaching Out
Student Experience
Rallying for Affirmative Action:
A Student Perspective
The Class is Half Empty: Report Supports Class-based Affirmative Action
Affirmative Action Resources

Diversity and Democracy: the Unfinished Work

By Carol Geary Schneider, president, AAC&U

Carol Geary Schneider

Carol Geary Schneider,
president, AAC&U

In June, the Supreme Court released its landmark decisions in the two University of Michigan affirmative action cases. The Court’s strong endorsement of diversity as a compelling national interest reaffirms higher education’s pivotal role in the nation’s long march toward integration and equal opportunity for all our citizens. It is a breakthrough victory for everyone who has made a long-term commitment to diversity and the expansion of opportunity for students of color.

In response to these momentous developments, AAC&U and thirty higher education associations released a statement of rededication to equal opportunity and integration, titled: Diversity and Democracy: The Unfinished Work. You can find the statement in full at www.aacu.org and on www.diversityweb.org. It has appeared in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Our purposes in framing this statement were two:

  • To remind the public and our colleagues throughout the academy that the Michigan cases must be seen in the context of a long, ongoing struggle toward racial equality and full inclusion for all Americans;
  • To commit our associations, on behalf of the higher education community, to the long-term work that must be done to a) fully prepare poor students and students of color for both college access and success; b) confront and close the achievement gap within higher education; and c) ensure that students of all backgrounds acquire the knowledge and capacities they need for a world that is simultaneously diverse, interdependent, fragmented, and deeply unequal.

The unity of the higher education community around these far-reaching and challenging commitments is heartening.

We know that you, our readers, are acutely engaged with the immediate practical consequences of the Michigan decisions, as well as with the longer term work of creating more just and equitable access to quality education and the expanded opportunities it confers. We therefore provide in these pages an analysis of the court’s decisions and their likely implications for admissions and other diversity practices. AAC&U has posted to its Web site a longer analysis of the legal implications of these decisions. (See www.aacu.org.) There also will be sessions on these questions at our annual meeting.

The Court’s proposal that there should be no need for affirmative action in twenty-five years challenges all of us to work with new creativity to close both the opportunity gap and the achievement gap. This issue of Diversity Digest therefore provides you with examples of campus programs that foster high expectations and high achievement, as well as access, for students from underserved communities. All the featured programs have a record of success in helping students from disadvantaged backgrounds succeed in college.

As these pages attest, there is much to do, and now much that we can do to overcome the legacies of segregation and inequality, and to build a better future for the diverse democracy we share in common.

Questions, comments, and suggestions regarding Diversity & Democracy should be directed to Kathryn Peltier Campbell at campbell@aacu.org.
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