On Tuesday, Staff Writer Adria Marin attended Barnard’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion’s “Studying the Now: Affirmative Action” discussion regarding institutional diversity policies and practices, moderated by President Rosenbury, Professor Melissa Murray, and VP Jennifer Rosales of DEI. 

On June 29, the Supreme Court of the United States made the decision to strike down affirmative action in college admissions. This decision turned the standing equal protection law on its head which, as the ACLU described, “…disregards prior precedent, as well as the societal realities of race discrimination and inequality.” 

Regardless of a college’s opinion on this decision, they must reform their college admissions processes or risk being sued. This Tuesday, Barnard College held the event Studying the Now: Affirmative Action where Barnard President Laura Rosenbury, Professor Melissa Murray, Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law at NYU, and Jennifer Rosales, Vice President for Inclusion and Engaged Learning and Chief Diversity Office at Barnard College, shared what they had to say about the decision.

Jennifer Fondiller, Barnard’s Vice President for Enrollment and Communications, opened the discussion by affirming, “[Barnard] remains staunchly committed to access and equity, with the understanding that excellence is distributed broadly, but opportunity is not.” She then turned her attention to President Rosenbury as she facilitated the conversation between Murray and Rosales.

Professor Murray explained how education is an engine of upward mobility. Education is completely transformable, it opens minds and opens doors, and groups against affirmative action are trying to close those doors. President Rosenbury stated that we must push back and not allow these doors to close in order to support underrepresented groups across the board. Murray continued that admissions staff must now be advocates and activists if they are committed to uplifting marginalized groups. 

Vice President Rosales described that Barnard has been very committed to diversity and will continue to be committed to diversity within the law. Barnard knows that learning is enriched by diversity and that diversity benefits everyone as college is a way of learning from each other and about each other. Rosales explained how diversity is not about numbers, but about ensuring that there are different groups of students, staff, and faculty—of different racial and ethnic groups, genders, sexualities, geographical locations, first-generation backgrounds, socioeconomic status, disabilities, religions, citizenship statuses, countries of origin, and more—that encompass Barnard as a whole.

How will Barnard remain committed to diversity within the law? The College’s admissions team has added a new supplemental question, “In what ways have you challenged ideas, practices, and spaces, and what did you learn from these experiences?” By inviting prospective students to voluntarily elaborate on how their identities have shaped their experiences, they are hoping to recruit students of color and continue to be a college where they want to come and learn and be a part of the community. They also want to make it clear that they support students of color through programs like Access Barnard and affinity groups like Barnard Mujeres that provide opportunities for minorities to integrate themselves into the college’s community. 

As Barnard’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Mission Statement states, “Together, our commitment to diversity, inclusion, and equity has the potential to disrupt and transform entrenched practices and thinking. And as a result, it will hold Barnard accountable to its goal of graduating students who are engaged world citizens possessed of a discerning intelligence, an understanding of inequality and power, and moral courage.”

Barnard will remain committed to its holistic approach in regard to admissions and will continue to intensify efforts to admit students from underrepresented backgrounds to ensure a diverse and inclusive population. 

Rosenbury, Murray, and Rosales via Author