ashland.news
June 21, 2024

SOU says SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action won’t impact university’s student diversity

The entrance to Southern Oregon University at Churchill Hall. Bob Palermini photo/palermini.com
June 30, 2023

By Erick Bengel, Rogue Valley Times

Based on its initial reading of Thursday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action in higher education, Southern Oregon University leadership said the ruling won’t change the diversity of its student population.

Noting that “(r)ace is not an admissions criterion at SOU,” the university said in a statement that the decision “will allow us to maintain an inclusive student body in the future.”

Joe Mosley, SOU director of communications, said that after the decision came down, “there was a fair amount of evaluation going on today regarding the court’s ruling.”

In a 6-3 decision dominated by the conservative majority, the court ruled, in considering challenges to admissions policies at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, that colleges cannot use race or ethnicity per se to guide admissions decisions.

SOU said in the statement that its leadership team is working through the implications of the court’s 237-page opinion and how it “may affect the admissions and other policies and practices at SOU.”

The university “is committed to its goal of creating a diverse, equitable, inclusive community where learners flourish,” the statement said.

The court’s decision left room for colleges to diversify their student body by other means. As Chief Justice John Roberts wrote, “nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration or otherwise.”

SOU said in its statement, “Our intent will be to find a path forward that lies within the new parameters that (Thursday’s) court action requires while presenting the broadest possible range of academic opportunities for all prospective students — including those whose backgrounds have traditionally been underserved by higher education.”

“SOU will remain a welcoming environment in which all students are supported as they pursue their academic dreams and career goals,” the university’s statement said.

Reach reporter Erick Bengel at ebengel@rv-times.com or 458-488-2031. This story first appeared in the Rogue Valley Times.

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Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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