EMK: The Making of an Inclusive Community
Dr. Neal Siler
What are the implications of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down affirmative action programs in college admissions? That is a question that earns deep introspection and fundamental deliberation. Pondering this movement suggests somewhere, somehow the corporate malaise around the DEI issue is all but ignored. I can’t help but wonder if SCOTUS has really missed it on this one. Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “college admissions programs can consider race merely to allow an applicant to explain how their race influenced their character in a way that would have a concrete effect on the university. But a student “must be treated based on his or her experiences as an individual — not on the basis of race.” Yet in 2003, Grutter v. Bollinger, the court upheld the University of Michigan Law School’s consideration of race “as one factor among many, in an effort to assemble a student body that is diverse in ways broader than race.”
This current move effectively overturns the Court’s previous decision. What happened in the minds or experiences of this body that altered such a strategic move in the direction of leveling the playing field for all. In the dissenting opinion Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who once called herself “the perfect affirmative action baby” emphasized that the majority’s decision had rolled “back decades of precedent and momentous progress” and “cemented a superficial rule of colorblindness as a constitutional principle in an endemically segregated society.” This opinion was cosigned by Justices Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Roberts suggests that at some point there needs to be a “sunset” of DEI and Affirmative action. Others imply that we have advanced to a more “colorblind” society. Yet, If the events of recent years are the gauge of our growth toward such a sunset or colorblindness how do we account for all the fallout charged with hostility and animosity as an almost-knee-jerk response to incidents that are perceived to show the slightest hint of racial overtones?
The truth is, in recent years there has been increased instances of racially focused incidents that suggest we are not a “colorblind” society. In fact, we should not be. The current unrest at New College and other institutions of higher education are clear indications that more is at stake than aptitude, propensity to equitably engage academically or compete intellectually. We should be “color aware” as an acknowledgement of the beautiful spectrum of personality, presence, and potential of all God’s children. All that looms over this topic gives me pause. In our upcoming Mosaic Forum, Dr. Angela Duncan, Dean of Allied Health at Virginia Commonwealth University, will join Dr. Terry Wardle and me in looking at this issue as we discern our response as pilgrims longing to see the fullness of God’s Mosaic Kingdom for all.
Dr Angela Duncan is an experienced Associate Dean and Assistant Professor with a demonstrated history of working in higher education, diversity equity and inclusion, community engagement and student affairs. With a Ph.D. focused in Health Related Sciences from Virginia Commonwealth University, she is skilled in healthcare information technology design and management, medical and hospital practice technology, and product assurance and quality engineering in both the automobile and aerospace industries. Her professional interests include highlighting how diversity equity and inclusion transforms health professions education, practice and outcomes; emphasizing the influence of cultural beliefs and spirituality on health care and end-of-life outcomes; how patients and clients cope with chronic illness; and examining the role that interdisciplinary patient and client centered care impacts health outcomes.