“Ensuring a diverse student body in higher education helps everyone, not just those who, due to their race, have directly inherited distinct disadvantages with respect to their health, wealth, and well-being.” –Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson
I’m writing this letter in the wake of the expected, yet still devastating, Supreme Court decision striking down the use of race as a factor in college admissions. Over the last fifty years, we have made substantial progress in opening the doors of higher education to students from all backgrounds. Today’s college students are significantly more diverse than they were when my fellow GenXers and I were in college – in socio-economic status, family history of education, gender, age, and yes, race. Affirmative action programs have played a critical role in that progress.
At Believe in Students, we are working towards a world where our higher education system is built to support today’s college students. This starts with considering who will walk through the door, and continues as we think about how students are taught, what supports they receive as they pursue their education, and how we set them up for future success. We know that this decision takes us backwards; indeed, it is intended to preserve a status quo that we find unacceptable.
So this summer, we are finding inspiration and support from the new partners we are working with to create change in the face of these new challenges. We added two new board members who bring extensive expertise in working with community colleges, helping people achieve financial stability, and building diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations and work places. We are expanding our FAST Fund network to bring in new partners. And we have just wrapped up on our inaugural Changemakers fellowship cohort, sending new advocates out into the world who have worked to use their lived experience in college to advocate for campus improvements in supporting students. You can see an example of their work here.
Stay tuned – we’ve got much more on the horizon, including an exciting announcement next month about a new tool we are developing to advance the #RealCollege movement. It is a tough job, working in higher education today. We are standing in solidarity with our colleagues and continuing our march toward a better world for all, and we thank you for being here with us!