Southeastern Legal Foundation and Speech First tackle diversity on campus

December 15, 2021

Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) and Speech First filed an amicus brief today with the United States Supreme Court in support of students who are suing the University of North Carolina to stop it from using racial preferences in its admissions process. For years, UNC has relied on race at every step of the college admissions process through methods like awarding plus factors to applicants solely because of the color of their skin. Because of this, a student’s race is often the determinative factor in admission or rejection from the university. Students for Fair Admissions is suing UNC to put an end to racial preferences in college admissions once and for all.

As Speech First and SLF explain in their amicus brief, for too long colleges have promoted—and the Supreme Court has accepted—a “diversity rationale” that allows colleges to admit applicants of certain races over others. Colleges are correct when they argue that a diverse student body produces a robust exchange of ideas, but miss the mark when they interpret diversity to mean only diversity of skin color. They should strive for true diversity and celebrate the value of the individual and seek diverse perspectives. The diversity rationale, historically accepted by the courts and implemented by schools like UNC, conflicts with basic First Amendment principles.

“True diversity is not skin deep. It is about sharing our views and learning from each other,” says Director of SLF’s 1A Project Cece O’Leary. “SLF is committed to ending cancel culture on campus so that colleges will return to truly being the marketplace of ideas.”

Ever since the Supreme Court accepted the diversity rationale and permitted racial preferences in admissions, freedom of speech on college campuses has been systematically declining. Surveys show that students do not feel comfortable expressing their opinions on campus; that students self-censor out of fear of how others would react; that some students support using violence to stop speakers they disagree with; and that the most difficult subject to discuss is race.

Censorship on campus is also visible in everyday policies like speech codes, bias response teams, and speech zones. Colleges must stop considering race in the admissions process because without a change in race-based admissions, these trends may never change.

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