Letter from SIT president on Supreme Court decision to ban race-conscious admissions practices

Announcement Date: June 29, 2023   |   School for International Training

Dear members of the SIT community,

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the use of race-conscious admissions practices by colleges and universities in a case regarding suits against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina.

With this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court has rolled back decades of precedent supporting the consideration of race as one of many factors that universities can use in their admissions decisions.

Many of you will be hearing various opinions about the decision from family, friends, and the media. You will no doubt be wondering what it all means for you, your university or college, or for SIT. You may also feel uncertain and concerned about your own well-being. I write today first to acknowledge these feelings and to tell you that my colleagues and I share your concerns, but also to offer support and encouragement. We do not know yet what all the implications of this ruling will be, and it will take time to digest and work through any specific actions. But I can tell you that colleges and universities across the country have been preparing for this difficult ruling, and I know that SIT and many others within the U.S. higher education sector stand firm to support a diverse, equitable, inclusive, and accessible environment for current and future students, faculty, staff, and alumni.    

SIT is a race-neutral institution. We do not utilize race-based criteria in our admissions process. Current, incoming, or students in the application process should not be concerned that this judgment will impact them in any way. However, inevitably this judgment will impact our future student body as we partner with exceptional institutions that might be more directly impacted. There will no doubt be a significant impact on the diversity of the international student landscape.

Those who filed briefs in this case—academic institutions, organizations, and individuals from across the United States—all share the same core beliefs that our nation’s strength lies in its diversity. Our colleges and universities—our staff, faculty, and students—all thrive best when we can provide educational equity and a truly diverse and inclusive learning environment. SIT stands with them. Access to education opens doors and drives social and economic mobility. And access to international education, a high-impact practice, has been proven to increase academic success, improve graduation rates, and provide the intercultural skills needed to be able to work and thrive in today’s global workforce.

School for International Training is built upon the heartfelt belief of our founders that the world’s safety and security, the well-being and thriving of humankind, and the health and richness of our planet all depend upon our ability to live with and understand one another. We strive to stand for diversity, equity, inclusion, and access because we understand that living these values enhances the educational experience of all our students. We know we are better when all of us can learn together and from each other. We know—because we witness it every day, every year, in every one of our global learning centers—that diversity makes us stronger individuals, communities, and societies. We see it in our students and in our alumni who have gone on to confront and address the critical global issues that challenge our world.

There is much we have yet to determine about the impact of today’s decision. We are committed to working with our university and institutional partners in the coming weeks and months to find innovative ways to address educational equity and diversity in U.S. higher education. In the meantime, if you are feeling uncertain or concerned about this recent decision, I encourage you to contact a member of our SIT team:

  • Current undergraduate and graduate students: Student Health Safety and Wellbeing, [email protected]
  • Current staff and faculty: Wagaye Johannes, Chief Diversity Equity and Inclusion Officer, [email protected]
  • Admitted or applying students: Jennifer Lee, Associate Vice President of Enrollment Services, [email protected]
  • Alumni: Alumni Engagement, [email protected]

We want to assure you—our students, staff, faculty, partners, alumni, and friends—that our core values of social inclusion and justice will continue to guide our actions and identity as we pursue a more sustainable, peaceful, and just world.

Dr. Sophia Howlett

President, School for International Training