Federal agencies issue affirmative action guidance after Supreme Court decision

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its anticipated decisions prohibiting higher education institutions from considering an applicant’s race when evaluating the individual for admission. Recently, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the Department of Justice’s Educational Opportunities Division jointly released two resources – a “Dear Colleague” letter and a questions-and-answers resource – to support colleges and universities “as they continue to pursue campuses that are racially diverse and that include students with a range of viewpoints, talents, backgrounds and experiences.”

Of note, the materials confirm the following:

  • Higher education institutions can continue to collect data from applicants that address race as long as race does not factor into the admissions decisions.
  • Colleges and universities are permitted to consider race, geographic residency, financial means and socioeconomic status, family background, and parental education level in recruitment efforts.
  • Campus programs intended to provide support to underrepresented students are acceptable when open to all students.

Marquette University’s processes and procedures comply with the June U.S. Supreme Court decisions due to preparatory planning conducted by a cross-disciplinary team convened in 2022. Importantly, Marquette’s undergraduate admissions process is significantly different than those of the higher education institutions involved in the Supreme Court cases.

Immediately following the Supreme Court decisions, university leadership reaffirmed its commitment to doing everything legally possible to enroll a diverse student body that reflects the realities of the world and enhances the transformational education Marquette provides.