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Issued June 23, 2016

Fisher ruling preserves ability to ensure diversity, equal opportunity

WASHINGTON—The Supreme Court’s opinion in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, issued this morning, is a welcome outcome, according to SEIU, the nation’s fastest growing union of higher education faculty and home to over 40,000 unionized college and university instructors.

“The court has once again upheld the ability of colleges and universities to ensure their student bodies are racially diverse, and that’s a win for students, for higher education and for all Americans,” said SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry. “This case was really about equal opportunity, and a majority of the justices saw that. The ruling means colleges can seek to provide a fair chance to students who are striving in the face of structural racism.”

“People of color are underrepresented in higher education, both in the faculty ranks and among the student population. At a time when our country is struggling to address the legacy of structural racism in our communities, on college campuses and in our justice system, it’s more important than ever that universities remain able to foster diversity,” said Ariana Vigil, assistant professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Today’s decision underscores that our public colleges and universities are for everyone -- and that higher education is a place where our nation can make progress toward a just society.”

“This outcome is a reminder that opportunities are not always equal, and not just in education. America’s employers should be proactive in pursuing ways to foster opportunity and diversity. So should our elected leaders,” Henry added. “A prepared workforce and a just society depend on it.”