Ahead of national affirmative action rulings, Schill emphasizes NU’s commitment to diversity


Daily file illustration by Olivia Abeyta

The University said students will have the option of disclosing their race and ethnicity in admissions essays.

Joanna Hou, Campus Editor

Northwestern President Michael Schill reaffirmed the University’s commitment to diversity in an email to the community Thursday. The message comes ahead of two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that will consider the role of race in college admissions. 

The cases Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina and Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University, whose decisions will be released in June, both challenge the use of affirmative action in college admissions. In 2016, the Supreme Court upheld affirmative action in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. Since then, the court’s composition has changed, so conservative justices now hold a 6-3 majority. 

In an April interview with The Daily, Schill said he was “not optimistic” the Supreme Court would uphold “a full-throated defense” of its 2003 ruling on Grutter v. Bollinger. That decision upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s affirmative action admissions policy. 

“We’re going to need to be very focused on the Supreme Court ruling this June, which could really disrupt our efforts to put together a diverse class,” Schill said. 

In his Thursday message, Schill said a group of University leaders, headed by Provost Kathleen Hagerty, have explored how to adapt NU’s current practices to “potential changes in the legal landscape.” 

The University plans to work hard “within the law” to protect diversity, Schill said in the email. This has included partnerships with QuestBridge, College Horizons and STARS Rural Network. 

Schill added the admissions process takes a diversity of experiences, circumstances and backgrounds into account. The University plans to extend its test-optional policy through the next academic year, with “an eye to developing a permanent policy.” 

“Northwestern’s commitment to student diversity will remain no matter what the Supreme Court decides,” Schill said in the email. “We are dedicated to supporting and improving the experience of all students, and diversity is a critical component of a well-rounded education.” 

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