Whitworth remains unaffected by Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision 

By Bar Rozenhaimer | Staff Writer 

A student walks into McEachran Hall at Whitworth University on Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023, in Spokane, Wash. | Madison Stoeckler/The Whitworthian

On June 29, 2023, the Supreme Court handed down their decision on the cases Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC. Their ruling ended the forty-year-old practice of affirmative action.  

Whitworth University released a statement prior to the handing down of the decision stating its commitment to student body diversity. “God’s creation is diverse, and his design for humanity is that everyone’s unique talents and gifts are utilized and united in sharing God’s love in the world. […] [Fostering] a diverse educational community […] is a key aspect of [Whitworth’s] institutional identity,” read a statement sent out on June 15, 2023, signed by Whitworth President Scott McQuilkin, Vice President for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Joshue Orozco and Vice President for Enrollment Management Josh Hibbard.

The Supreme Court’s decision regarding affirmative action will have no effect on Whitworth’s admissions policy or student body demographics, according to Hibbard.  

“Unlike universities such as Harvard and a few other highly rejective institutions, [Whitworth] does not use race or ethnicity [as an admissions criterion and does not have] admissions goals based on race or ethnicity,” said Hibbard. 

Since Whitworth has a high acceptance rate, it does not need the sorting mechanisms that institutions like Harvard University use to ensure a diverse student body, Hibbard said. Instead, to remove barriers of entry for underrepresented demographics, Whitworth has adopted a test-optional admissions application, an overnight campus visit program and hired an associate director of admissions for diversity, equity & inclusion and a cabinet-level chief diversity officer. 

While Whitworth’s ability to offer admission to underrepresented students may not change, other institutions may see radical changes. Adrianna Pita said in a Brookings Institution podcast that California, which banned affirmative action in its state system back in 1996, saw a resultant 30–40 percent drop in Black and Hispanic enrollment. Pita expects these numbers to appear in highly selective institutions like Harvard. Nationwide, she expects about a 10 percent drop in Black and Hispanic enrollment in the future. Universities that aim to have a diverse student body will have to turn to other methods. 

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