Now that the Supreme Court has struck down affirmative action in college admissions, conservatives appear to be turning their attention to eliminating other opportunities for underrepresented minorities to gain access to higher education. The end of minority scholarships at public universities in Missouri and Kentucky and a recent set of comments by the leading state representative in Wisconsin demonstrate the impact the Supreme Court’s ruling will have on education.
“Immediately halt” race-based university policies
Rolling Stone reports that on June 29, the same day the Supreme Court struck down affirmative action in college admissions, Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey issued a letter to state colleges and universities informing them “Missouri institutions must identify all policies that give preference to individuals on the basis of race and immediately halt the implementation of such policies.” The University of Missouri responded later that day, announcing it was eliminating its programs that entailed “race-based admissions and race-based scholarships.” Meanwhile, the University of Kentucky’s president, Eli Capilouto, stated, “Based on our initial understanding, it appears that the court has restricted the consideration of race with respect to admissions and scholarships.”
Targeting “minority undergraduate grants”
Other Republican-led states seem to be attempting to implement similar bans on scholarships for minority students. Wisconsin State Assembly Speaker Rep. Robin Vos recently announced he and his fellow Republicans were considering whether the recent Supreme Court decision on affirmative action would also mean eliminating scholarship programs for minorities. The exchange happened over Twitter, where one user posted about the Supreme Court case and tagged Vos, asking if it would impact “numerous scholarships, grants & programs that exclude millions of Wisconsinites because of their race.” The poster included a picture of text concerning “minority undergraduate grants” in Wisconsin that are available for Black, Hispanic and Native American students as well as immigrants or children of immigrants from Cambodia, Laos or Vietnam.
SCOTUS: "Eliminating racial discrimination means eliminating all of it." The Wis. Leg. can take some easy steps after this decision such as fixing numerous scholarships, grants & programs that exclude millions of Wisconsinites because of their race.
Just one example @repvos: pic.twitter.com/WpG89VqhJg
— Dan Lennington (@DanLennington) June 29, 2023
Rep. Vos responded in response to this post, “We are reviewing the decision and will introduce legislation to correct the discriminatory laws on the books and pass repeals in the fall.”
We are reviewing the decision and will introduce legislation to correct the discriminatory laws on the books and pass repeals in the fall. https://t.co/dVpNxqnF2H
— Robin Vos (@repvos) June 29, 2023
Targeting school access, inclusion and educational content
These scholarship attacks are part of a larger trend that threatens access to educational opportunities for underrepresented minorities. The recent Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action policies around the nation is expected to lead to severe drops in the number of Black, Latino and other underrepresented students who attend college, especially at more elite institutions. This direction comes as many schools cut back or eliminate their diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts; states like Florida and Texas are pushing legislation to defund or ban DEI offices. And several states have passed bans on public schools teaching critical race theory. Conservatives are stretching this concept to include basic discussions of race and racism in classrooms.
As these policies are implemented in solidly red states, expect other Republican-led governments to seek to copy them. These attacks on educational access and inclusion will severely impact Black and other marginalized students. With the popularity of these policies growing within Republican circles and outrage swelling from advocates for greater access to education, the political fights over school diversity are likely to continue for some time.