Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber issued a statement Thursday afternoon expressing his disappointment about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to ignore more than 50 years of established case law allowing colleges and universities to take race into account as one factor in the admissions process.
“Those precedents wisely recognized that colleges and universities must have some discretion to determine how best to find and attract the talent that exists in every sector of our society. Today’s decision narrows that discretion significantly,” Eisgruber wrote.
The justices held that admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina, which relied in part on race, violate the Constitution. The votes split along ideological lines, with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. writing for the conservative members in the majority, and the liberal justices dissenting. While the ruling involved race-conscious programs at Harvard and UNC, it will affect almost every college and university in the U.S.
Eisgruber said the decision released by the court on Thursday morning was unwelcome and disappointing, but not unexpected.
“Princeton has been preparing for this possibility with assistance and advice from legal counsel. While today’s decision will make our work more difficult, we will work vigorously to preserve—and, indeed, grow—the diversity of our community while fully respecting the law as announced today,” Eisgruber wrote. “I may have more to say after my colleagues and I have had an opportunity to examine the details of today’s decision.”
Eisgruber, who was not available for interviews Thursday, stressed principles he said are fundamental to Princeton University’s mission that the school will follow:
· Talent exists in every sector of American society, and we have an obligation to attract exceptional people of every background and enable them to flourish on our campus.
· Diversity benefits learning and scholarship by broadening the range of questions, perspectives, and experiences brought to bear on important topics throughout the University.
· Our multicultural society requires that, in the words of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, “the path to leadership [must] be visibly open to talented and qualified individuals of every race and ethnicity.”
“For all these reasons and more, diversity is essential to the excellence of this university and to the future of our country and the world,” Eisgruber wrote. “Princeton will pursue it with energy, persistence, and a determination to succeed despite the restrictions imposed by the Supreme Court in its regrettable decision today.”