In October 2012, the Supreme Court of the United States will hear arguments on Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, a case that challenges the constitutionality of race-based affirmative action in admissions programs at public colleges and universities. Many at the College of the Holy Cross, and other public and private institutions around the country, are watching this case closely for the possible repercussions it could have on the future of affirmative action plans at all higher education institutions. If the ruling opinion is to end affirmative action at public institutions, it could quickly ripple to encompass any private institution, such as Holy Cross, that accepts federal funds.
Holy Cross has a celebrated history of recruiting a diverse student body, and the College filed an amicus brief in the case with seven other Catholic colleges and universities. The brief argues that the Supreme Court has long upheld academic freedom, and the institutions’ admissions policies should be protected by the First Amendment.
The College, its students, and its alumni have a stake in this. One way or another, the end of affirmative action would change life on campus. So this fall, the College’s Rev. Michael C. McFarland, S.J. Center for Religion, Ethics and Culture, tasked with probing these difficult, ethical issues in public forums, is taking on the topic of affirmative action and its value at Holy Cross.
On Sept. 17, Harvard Law Professor Randall Kennedy gave a public lecture here on “The Supreme Court and Affirmative Action.” In his talk, he highlighted key decisions in race-based affirmative action in higher education over the last 34 years. He offered a prediction of Supreme Court’s ruling in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. And he laid out his own case defending race-based affirmative action as a form of restorative justice to historically disadvantaged populations.
Watch Prof. Kennedy’s lecture online here.
With that background, the McFarland Center now poses the question to its constituents, students, alumni, faculty, and staff: Does affirmative action help or hinder us in becoming a more just society?
A “fishbowl” discussion will take place on Monday, Oct. 1 at 4:30 p.m. in the Rehm Library. During the fishbowl, a small group of faculty, students and alumni seated in an inner circle will discuss the topic, before opening up the floor for questions and comments by the audience seated in an outer circle. Featured participants will include Margaret Freije, associate dean of the College; Kendy Hess, Brake-Smith Assistant Professor in Social Philosophy and Ethics; Darrell Byers ’83, director of development at WBUR; and students Patricia Giglio ’14, Ariel Jimenez ’13, Christopher Theobalt ’13 and Antonio Willis-Berry ’13.
All are welcome to attend the fishbowl. The event also will be recorded and available for online viewing in the days leading up to and following the Supreme Court proceedings. Submit your comments online to help us continue a meaningful dialogue on the future of affirmative action at Holy Cross.
Video: Holy Cross Community Recognizes Importance of Diversity During Unity Week
Worcester News Tonight
On “Worcester News Tonight,” broadcasted on Charter Channel 3, several student leaders at the College of the Holy Cross provided insight on the importance of the...11/28/16
Lt. John Vincent Power ’37 Memorial Statue Rededicated and Restored
Telegram & Gazette
In honor of Veteran’s Day, the city of Worcester rededicated and restored the John Vincent Power Memorial—a bronze statue in honor of the late Lt. John Vincent Power—to...11/23/16
Holy Cross Alumnus Receives Worcester’s Isaiah Thomas Award
Telegram & Gazette
Frederick Eppinger ’81 and his wife, Patty recently received the Isaiah Thomas Award during an awards ceremony at Mechanics Hall for their “transformative impact on...