Many of us in higher education are looking toward the Supreme Court, which will hear arguments on December 9 in the Fisher v. University of Texas case challenging the university’s racially conscious admissions policy. The case will be argued against a backdrop of protests by students at many colleges and universities—including Oberlin—against structural and systemic racism in American higher education.
The protests were a key element in an interesting article by Adam Liptak of The New York Times on December 1. Liptak quoted experts who said the Supreme Court justices are closely following the protests, especially at Princeton and Yale, where some of the justices either studied as undergraduates or attended law school. The article suggested that the Court’s discussion may be influenced by the justices’ views of the protests.
I see the recent events on campuses across the country as underscoring the importance of creating inclusive student bodies and educational communities that are essential to our democracy. Given the changing demographics of the United States, making sure our institutions of higher education truly represent our country is more important than ever.
But the protests on campus and the events that sparked them also show that significant challenges exist and much work remains.
At Oberlin, we are working hard to make our campus community more equitable, inclusive, and diverse by trying to enroll more black and latina/latino students and by working to attract more black and latina/latino faculty. Equity and inclusion are also central elements in our strategic planning process. In that process we need to do more to make our commitment and priority to inclusion, diversity, and equity clear and strong.
I hope the Supreme Court upholds the University of Texas’ processes for creating a diverse student body. But regardless of the outcome, inclusion, equity, and diversity will remain core values of Oberlin.
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