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Bowdoin administration and faculty respond to landmark Supreme Court decision

June 30, 2023

On Thursday, June 29, President Clayton Rose sent an email statement to the College in response to the Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision to effectively ban race-based affirmative action in college admissions.

Rose, who echoed the Court’s dissenting opinions, wrote the ruling was a step backward in the College’s pursuit of an equal and equitable admissions process.

“It is clear and deeply disappointing that the Court overturned more than forty years of precedent that has enhanced diversity in campus communities,” Rose wrote. “President-elect Safa Zaki and I have discussed these cases, and we share the view that today’s decision undermines the essential work to create an educational environment and experience that prepares students for the diverse worlds of work and of informed political and social engagement.”

Senior Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Student Aid Claudia Marroquin echoed these sentiments in an email to the Orient.

“As a Bowdoin graduate myself, I have experienced how a campus community like Bowdoin’s prepares students for a complex and diverse world and am fully committed to sustaining a diverse community while adhering to legal mandates,” Marroquin wrote. “The decision is quite long, and we will be taking our time to work with our legal counsel to ensure our processes comply with the new law.”

While Affirmative Action has been challenged in front of national courts before, its legality has been upheld until Thursday. Most notably, the Supreme Court upheld race-based affirmative action in the 2003 case Grutter v. Bollinger. The precedent was first established in the 1978 case University of California v. Bakke with a decision in favor of collegiate affirmative action.

The Court’s decision to overturn precedent will first impact the collegiate class of 2028. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion which contains language  allowing for race-based personal narratives to be considered by admissions offices.

“This does not preclude admissions programs from considering the effect of race on a particular applicant,” Assistant Professor of Government Maron Sorenson said. “So if an applicant writes in their personal statement about how they had to overcome racial discrimination that can be considered.”

Rose concluded his statement by recalling his August 2022 message to the College community in which he reaffirmed his commitment to creating a diverse campus, regardless of the Court’s ruling.

“Whatever the outcome and no matter how challenging the work, we will never back away from our commitment to build and sustain a truly diverse community where everyone has the opportunity for an equitable experience and an enduring sense of belonging,” he wrote.


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