Leadership Blog

Waiting for SCOTUS to Decide

The United States Supreme Court is expected to release two decisions in the near future that will determine whether colleges and universities are permitted to consider race as a factor in selecting students for admission.

Often called “affirmative action,” colleges and universities have been allowed to consider race as one factor in admission decisions for the purpose of achieving a diverse student body since the Supreme Court’s 1978 landmark decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. However, based on statements made during oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the pending cases of Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina, a majority of the justices appear poised to prohibit affirmative action in higher education admissions. 

PAEA values equity, diversity, and inclusion, not just among students but among faculty and staff in our programs. There is ample evidence showing that health outcomes are improved for patients when our health care professionals reflect the populations they serve. A few weeks ago, PAEA released a statement reaffirming its commitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion as core values of PAEA.

Naturally, as the Court appears poised to eliminate affirmative action in higher education admissions, we are as concerned as many of our member programs about the negative impacts to PA programs that value equity, diversity, and inclusion.

What makes it so hard to discuss, however, is how little we know. When will the decisions be released? When will programs have to change their admissions policies in response to the decisions and in what ways? If race can no longer be used as a factor in admissions, how might colleges and universities continue to pursue equity, diversity, and inclusion (“EDI”) in their student bodies?   

Perhaps the most immediate and pressing question for PAEA members is how the ruling will affect programs. While we don’t know the court’s decisions yet, we can promise you that we are closely monitoring the situation. We are already consulting with PAEA staff members and trusted advisors with extensive experience in government relations, admissions, legal compliance, and EDI to prepare for the release of the decisions and ensure that PAEA is ready to support our member programs.

Please know that we are in this together and PAEA will be ready to help when the time comes. We are committed to disseminating a variety of educational resources to members and providing opportunities for engagement with PAEA staff in the weeks and months following the release of the Supreme Court’s decisions in the Harvard and UNC cases.

In the interim, we will continue to advocate to ensure the pipeline to the profession remains strong and reflective of our core values and the communities we serve.