Statement on the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling

June 30, 2023 | San Diego Community College District

SDCCD Community,

On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States reversed five decades of well-established precedent recognizing public and private universities’ right to intentionally expand access for students from diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial communities. While unsurprising, this decision is disheartening. The court’s decision ignores the history and ongoing realities of racism in our country and higher education systems and abdicates our responsibility to pursue justice.

Affirmative action in college and university admissions has been criticized as giving unqualified students access to higher education over qualified students. This is untrue. Affirmative action has allowed colleges and universities to identify students meeting the academic requirements for admission and then consider race and ethnicity, among many other criteria, to expand access for communities which have been intentionally excluded from our higher education systems. Affirmative action acknowledged the appalling history of legal racism in higher education and the barriers which persist to the present moment. Affirmative action offered one pathway towards social justice within the parameters of federal civil rights law.

Fortunately, this decision does not impact how the San Diego Community College District and our colleges – City College, Mesa College, Miramar College, and the College of Continuing Education – operate and serve our students. We see and value the potential of every member of our community to succeed in their educational pathway and welcome them into our colleges. We celebrate our mission to provide open access to our diverse communities. We invite and welcome those who have and continue to experience racism and discrimination in education and offer understanding, belonging, and success.

Today, the importance of our colleges and the work we do has been elevated. We must think, plan, and act to support our students beyond their time at our colleges. We are uniquely positioned to help students from diverse communities break through barriers to their educational advancement as they move on to colleges and universities. We embrace this opportunity as our responsibility. We embrace the lived experiences of our students as intrinsic to their value, power, and success. We embrace the diversity of our students, faculty, classified professionals, supervisors, managers, and community members as the primary source of our institutional strength and excellence.

Gregory Smith
Acting Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District

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