Janet Murguía, President and CEO of UnidosUS—the nation’s largest Latino civil rights and advocacy organization—issued the following statement after today’s ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on race-conscious admissions in higher education:
“While the Supreme Court’s decision is deeply disappointing in its lack of vision about our American future and in its failure to uphold the value of diversity on college campuses, we should keep in mind that this narrow decision should do nothing to stem worthy efforts to continue making our country truly reflective of the people who live here.
“As the former Executive Vice Chancellor at the University of Kansas, I know how essential access to higher education is, and how much a vibrant and diverse student body contributes to the education of every student and to the higher education experience.
“In the Latino community, we will not count ourselves—and our brightest young people—out just because the Supreme Court has chosen to adopt a narrow-minded view of the huge and irreplaceable value that students of color bring to education. And we wholeheartedly agree with Justice Elena Kagan’s earlier observation that admission to colleges ‘are the pipelines to leadership in our society.’
“We should be clear: students of color belong on college campuses. Diversity in leadership is critical to our society, including in the military and public sectors. The same need for diversity applies to our corporate and business leaders. We simply cannot effectively lead complex organizations in a multiracial society if we don’t make room for Hispanic and other leaders of color to take their seat at the tables where the most important decisions get made. Our nation’s future depends on it.
“In that vein, we must avoid what happened in California a generation ago. When Proposition 209 barred race-conscious admissions in California in 1996, Latino student admissions at UCLA and Berkeley dropped by half. Today, more than half of California’s public high school graduates identified as Hispanic, but just 25% of freshmen at all University of California schools and only 15% of freshmen at UCLA and Berkeley are Latino.
“We cannot allow participation of communities of color to experience similar declines in colleges and universities across the country. Everyone involved in education must act with urgency to ensure that colleges remain able to achieve diversity on campus.
“Access to post-secondary education is a gateway to greater economic achievement and contribution, creating stability and progress for families and whole communities. After today’s decision, achieving greater equity in education by any legal means available must now be central to how we all can realize the American dream.
“Alongside our fellow civil rights organizations, we underscore that this decision is limited to just one aspect of college admissions. It cannot and should not disturb our commitments to diversity, equity and inclusion. Latinos are one in five Americans, and communities of color together make up nearly 40% of the US population. We should never forget that diversity is our country’s superpower.”
UnidosUS is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that serves as the nation’s largest Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization. Since 1968, we have challenged the social, economic, and political barriers that affect Latinos through our unique combination of expert research, advocacy, programs, and an Affiliate Network of nearly 300 community-based organizations across the United States and Puerto Rico. We believe in an America where economic, political, and social progress is a reality for all Latinos, and we collaborate across communities to achieve it. For more information on UnidosUS, visit unidosus.org or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.