US Supreme Court removes race from university admission criteria; what this means

The US President Joe Biden urged the universities to support diverse students and “not abandon commitment to student diversity.

On US Supreme Court decision, Harvard University said working to understand the decision and its implications for our policies. (Image: Harvard University official website)On US Supreme Court decision, Harvard University said working to understand the decision and its implications for our policies. (Image: Harvard University official website)

Anu Parthiban | June 30, 2023 | 05:00 PM IST

NEW DELHI: In a major announcement, the United States Supreme Court has removed caste from the admission criteria for universities. The Justices ruled that affirmative action admissions programmes that consider an applicant's race did violate the US Constitution's promise of equal protection under the law, Reuters reported.

Chief Justice John Roberts said even as the “affirmative action was well-intentioned and implemented in good faith," and foster diversity in university admission, it “cannot last forever” as it would be equal to unconstitutional discrimination against others, the report said.

The US court sided with a group called Students for Fair Admissions. “In its appeal of lower court rulings upholding programs used at the two prestigious schools to foster a diverse student population. The vote counts were 6-3 against UNC and 6-2 against Harvard,” the report stated.

Disappointed with the US Court's decision, the US President Joe Biden urged all universities to ensure build diverse student bodies and not abandon the commitment to student diversity, the report further added.

ALSO READ | ‘Caste is a problem among South Asian students everywhere’; US universities are recognising it

Taking to Twitter, the US President on Thursday said, “Today, I'm directing the Department of Education to analyze what practices helped build more inclusive and diverse student bodies and what practices hold that back. Colleges should continue to support, retain, and graduate diverse students and classes.”

On the SC decision, the Harvard University said, "We continue to believe deeply that a thriving diverse intellectual community is essential to academic excellence... In the coming weeks, we’ll be working to understand the decision and its implications for our policies."

In March, the university added a new provision to its non-discrimination policy and committed to equal opportunity and prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, race, colour national origin, gender, caste, creed etc.

The Supreme Court last year in January agreed to review a challenge to the consideration of race in college admission decisions, often known as affirmative action. The Students of Fair Admissions in the appeal alleged that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina discriminate against Asian American applicants. Notably, the matter was heard in the court for the last 40 plus years but had been upheld.

As per the Reuters report, around 40 percent of the universities and colleges have race as a factor for admission.

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