Supreme Court affirmative action ruling is a threat to equity in New York 

Jun 29, 2023 | Blog

By Dr. Dia Bryant
Executive Director, Ed Trust–NY

Systemic racism adversely impacted students of color in New York’s education system long before affirmative action became law in 1961. And since then, students of color have still faced many systemic barriers when it comes to accessing higher education compared to their peers.  

Even just a small snapshot of Ed Trust–NY’s and The New York Equity Coalition’s mass of data analyses outline that clearly:

  • Black, Latinx, and American Indian students are less likely to attend schools that offer advanced coursework that is critical for success in college. 
  • Among New York State’s five largest school districts that serve predominantly students of color, several are failing to ensure funding is reaching the schools with the greatest needs. 
  • Financial aid — like the  Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), NYS Application for Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) — can be a key factor in whether first-generation students, students of color, and those from low-income backgrounds attend college. 

Put simply, the Supreme Court’s decision to end race-conscious admissions is a threat to equity in New York State. 

While the decision focuses solely on college admissions, there is nothing to suggest that other initiatives that help boost diversity on college campuses can’t be targeted in the future — such as recruitment programs, scholarship opportunities, and on-campus programs focused on supporting students of color to attain higher education. State and higher education leaders have the opportunity to continue to protect these efforts and fight for them. 

Diversity is core to the fabric of our state. In the coming months, we are hopeful that New York State leaders make clear strides to maintain diversity on campuses in the wake of this ruling. Many of our public institutions, including SUNY and CUNY, and private universities in the Empire State are committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion, and will actively seek innovative opportunities to bolster diversity in higher education. 

The Supreme Court ruling has the potential to significantly and detrimentally impact campuses throughout New York. We urge state leaders to continue efforts to address the systemic inequities impacting students of color in our state’s education systems, such as: 

  • Expanding higher education opportunity programs. 
  • Recruiting and retaining more educators of color. 
  • Expanding access to rigorous programs that provide college credit in high school.
  • Improving access to advanced coursework that will prepare students of color for postsecondary success. 
  • Strengthening graduation requirements to ensure that all students show up as high-quality candidates for college admissions including administration of Regents exams that lead to an advanced diploma.
  • Eliminating remedial courses at community colleges by replacing them with co-requisite courses, while also providing support services to encourage and accelerate postsecondary degree completion. 
  • Investing in financial aid programs to help first-generation and historically marginalized students build and generate wealth post-college. 

More remains to be done. Ed Trust–NY will continue to advocate and ensure that ALL students in New York have opportunities to reach their fullest potential.