Coming Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action
Dear members of the MIT community,
As you may be aware, the US Supreme Court is expected to rule soon in two cases testing the legality of race-conscious admissions in higher education.
I write to you in advance, prompted by some powerful recent experiences.
- From the faculty lightning talks to the student performances, the community events around my inauguration took my breath away. This showcase of the Institute’s rich range of voices, in every sense, brought home the simple reality that MIT has never been more excellent – and never been more diverse.
- Commencement and Reunions displayed those same qualities on a grander scale, allowing me for the first time to meet hundreds of our alumni, to appreciate the radiant pride of thousands of MIT families from absolutely everywhere and to personally hand hundreds of new graduates the MIT diplomas they had earned.
- And then this weekend, I read a new blog post from Dean of Admissions and Student Financial Services Stu Schmill ’86. A member of this community for 40 years, Stu explains the longstanding MIT values and admissions practices that have delivered class after class of increasing talent and diversity – and he anticipates the effect of new constraints the Supreme Court may soon impose on how we admit classes in the future.
For our community, there is a great deal at stake. Unless the court rules differently from what is widely anticipated, we expect the ruling to pose a serious challenge to sustaining, in future classes, the diverse mix of undergraduate and graduate students who make MIT the place it is today. The decision may also affect a range of programs and services beyond admissions.
MIT will follow the law. But in advance of the ruling, I want to articulate clearly and unambiguously my commitment to building on MIT’s decades-long efforts to welcome a student body that is both unparalleled in its academic excellence and vibrantly diverse.
Our diversity as a community is essential to our mission, to our intellectual and creative excellence and to preparing all our students for the world they will help to lead. Every MIT student brings their own life experiences that enrich the education of all students, and every student is a valued and important member of our community. I believe we owe it to ourselves, to our nation and, frankly, to the world to do whatever we can, within the bounds of the law, to keep our doors open to this full breadth of human talent.
What comes next
I expect some of you may have practical questions. Until the court actually rules, it will be difficult to provide substantive answers. We have been working for some time with MIT offices and programs to consider what might need to be changed with any new law. Once the decisions have been made public, we will work closely with our general counsel’s and admissions offices to develop and provide further guidance. If you have concerns or questions in the meantime, please reach out to the general counsel’s office at email@example.com.
For now, please know that maintaining the richly diverse community that fuels the excellence of MIT is at the center of our attention.