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U.S. Supreme Court Ruling on Race-Conscious Admissions

Dear Swarthmore Community Members, 

Today, as many anticipated, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a decision that significantly limits the extent to which a prospective student's race factors into college and university admissions. We will need time to analyze and fully understand the implications of this ruling. Our colleagues in Admissions have been working with our General Counsel’s Office and outside legal consultants to prepare for this outcome.

While we will comply with the law, let me be clear: We will not allow today’s decision to erode our steadfast commitment to diversity and inclusion. 

Swarthmore’s own imperfect history underscores the transformative impact that considering race as one of many factors in a holistic admissions review can have on an institution of higher learning. Living and learning in diverse communities strengthens our collective ability to contribute to a better world, and research has repeatedly shown that diversity on college campuses leads to more meaningful experiences and successful learning outcomes for all students. As we’ve previously argued in support of race-conscious admissions practices, “diversity also generates pedagogical innovations and decreases prejudice.”

Over time, we have developed several successful relationships and programs to increase access to a Swarthmore education, including partnerships with national and local community-based organizations such as Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA), EMERGE, and College Match. We’ve also partnered with QuestBridge and the Coalition for College, organizations that have an express goal of reaching traditionally marginalized students. And we welcome first-generation, low-income, and historically underserved students to visit Swarthmore and gain firsthand insight into college life through programs such as Discover Swarthmore for prospective students and Swatlight for admitted students.  

Our financial aid policies and practices also underscore our commitment to making a Swarthmore education accessible to students of all backgrounds. Swarthmore admits domestic students without considering their ability to pay and provides loan-free financial aid packages that meet 100% of a student’s demonstrated financial need, regardless of citizenship status.

Other developing initiatives — such as our strategic planning efforts and the creation of a new vice president for diversity, equity, and inclusion position — may also provide new approaches to cultivating a richly diverse campus community.

I want to say directly to those of you from historically marginalized communities who may find today’s decision particularly painful — you belong here. You and your wide-ranging talents, perspectives, and intellectual pursuits are valuable parts of the fabric of the College and the exceptional educational experience that is fundamental to who we are.

While we will abide by the Court’s ruling, in the face of challenges to the values integral to who we are, we will persist in fostering a diverse, inclusive community.

My best, 

Valerie Smith
Swarthmore College