Local Colleges Largely Unaffected by Supreme Court Ruling

September 12, 2023

The Supreme Court’s June 29th ruling that race-based affirmative action in admissions is unconstitutional was disappointing for many educators, but not necessarily a surprise. But the rulings don’t impact how local institutions such as Fort Lewis College operate. Additionally, the rulings don’t impact how schools conduct outreach or recruit. By Connor Shreve. This story is sponsored by Serious Texas BBQ and Sky Ute Casino

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It has been two months since the Supreme Court affirmative action ruling essentially ended the practice of race conscious college admissions. We're talking to the president of Fort Lewis College, to see how that ruling affects local colleges, and universities. You're watching "The Local News Network," brought to you by Serious Texas Bar-B-Q, and Sky Ute Casino, I'm Connor Shreve. The Supreme Court's ruling at the end of June, sent ripples through the higher education world. But Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus says the decision doesn't do anything, to change the value of diversity and education, or how FLC operates.

We recruit, we promote, we build an inclusive community, around ensuring that the greatest number, of diverse applicants can apply to Fort Lewis College. There's nothing in this decision that stops institutions, from talking about the value of diversity, and acting on those commitments as long as, they are not using those in admissions decisions.

Stritikus believes and cites studies that show, diverse student populations benefit learning, but he also points out the Supreme Court ruling, affects such a tiny portion of students nationwide. The case specifically addressed admissions policies, at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. That's a small portion of higher education. While Harvard does tend to dominate college headlines, in the national media, Stritikus says, the vast majority of American students are educated at places like Fort Lewis College.

We admit every student we believe can be successful. We don't consider race in admissions. We haven't even prior to this decision, and we value diversity. So it doesn't mean that we don't value diversity, on our campus, we do. It's central to who we are, but it is not used as a factor in admissions.

The FLC student population, is about 40% Native American, in part because of the Native American tuition waiver it offers. Fort Lewis also provides free tuition for students, who come from families making less than $60,000 per year. Stritikus says the ruling did ignore a vital societal interest of diversity in education.

So if we want to be serious about improving outcomes, for students of color, and we are very serious, about that at Fort Lewis, we want to pay attention, to those places that that are doing that work. And you know, to put it in perspective, Fort Lewis has the honor of working with the student population that's about 40% Native American. Harvard's population of Native American students, is less than 0.2 of 1%.

While the ruling might set an admissions precedent, it does not have anything to do with how schools recruit or conduct outreach. There is a possibility that follow up cases could narrow the scope of how schools are allowed to operate in those realms.

And that would be really quite tragic, because one of the things, one of the very rich things, about Fort Lewis really is our diversity and the fact that students get to learn with an amazing, an amazing group of students, as they're developing themselves as leaders, and the work that they want to go do out in the community.

Stritikus is clear in his belief that the SCOTUS ruling, is a step back for higher education, but also quick to point out that it won't change anything, in terms of the commitment to diversity, that Fort Lewis and most other schools hold in high regard. You can learn more about this, and other stories at DurangoLocal.news. Thank you for watching this edition, of "The Local News Network." I'm Connor Shreve.


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