Pro-affirmative action demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday.

Editorial Snippets: Affirmative Action Edition

By The Crimson Editorial Board
Pro-affirmative action demonstrators gathered outside the Supreme Court on Monday. By Julian J. Giordano

On the very eve of the Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College trial, we asked our Editorial editors to reflect on what affirmative action means to them, and the impact that the initiative’s downfall could have on Harvard.

Why does affirmative action matter to you?

As a child, I was fascinated by the Supreme Court. An institution that bore witness to our nation’s history. An institution that shaped our nation’s history. An institution that changed the course of our nation’s history. An institution that will now also revise history. Any suggestion that our nation has moved past the need to be race-conscious, in college admissions or elsewhere, are deeply misaligned with reality. SCOTUS may rule on law, but it cannot manifest falsehoods into truths. Race-consciousness is not yet history — but a Court worthy of respect will be.

—Ruby Huang ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a History concentrator in Leverett House.

The U.S. admissions process as it currently stands is an attempt to traverse through a student's story, their life as they see fit to share. To erase race from that story is a grave mistake. For myself, Harvard always seemed completely out of reach, an actual "dream" school, but race-concious admissions gave me enough comfort to share a fuller picture of my story and identity. Race-conscious admissions is hope; I don't know if I would ever have had the chance to immerse myself in my ambitions, to come to the realization that I too am able to excel in my “dream” college if provided the right opportunity and resources, without that hope.

—Labiba Uddin ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Pforzheimer House.

I have nothing but love for my Asian American siblings. I glow when I meet peers who share my same fumbled grasp of Mandarin and taste for black sesame paste. I do not think we are lacking in personality. But I hate more how Students for Fair Admissions has pitted us against Black and Brown communities in their aim to dismantle affirmative action. We are not enemies. We are all victims under the overarching admissions system that accepts a majority of white applicants year after year, splitting slivers between people of color.

—Christina M. Xiao ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a joint concentrator in Computer Science and Government in Eliot House.

Students from around the country traveled to Washington to rally for affirmative action in front of the Supreme Court.
Students from around the country traveled to Washington to rally for affirmative action in front of the Supreme Court. By Julian J. Giordano

The oral arguments at the Supreme Court suggest that Affirmative Action will in fact be overturned. How will the Harvard you've known change without affirmative action?

I find that to be in a Harvard classroom — a diverse Harvard classroom — is to be in ambitious, creative, inclusive company. While affirmative action is not a perfect solution, it’s fostered the Harvard classrooms I’ve grown to love. A Harvard without it means a Harvard with fewer perspectives to learn from, fewer similar voices to relate with and lean on, fewer opportunities for social mobility. Throwing away an imperfect solution does not throw away the problem, and for a problem as big as social inequality, peeling back affirmative action’s bandaid will uncover a deep, unhealed wound.

—Emily N. Dial ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Philosophy concentrator in Adams House.

Many of my Harvard peers often reflect upon how they had never been exposed to such a diverse community prior to college. I count myself lucky to say that after growing up in my hometown I simply can’t relate. Prior to freshmen year, I had never witnessed such intense representation of rich white kids. Without Affirmative Action, a greater share of future Harvard students will be in my shoes. And scarier even is that they might not be bothered by it.

—Haley A. Lifrieri ’24, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Computer Science concentrator in Winthrop House

A campus without affirmative action is one that hinders a genuine commitment to true education, philosophy, and social betterment. We need unique voices and experiences in Harvard classrooms to prepare the citizen leaders of the world that will show empathy, understanding, and tolerance to the multitude of identities that exist. A student’s racial identity should not have to be hidden or suppressed on their college applications. Instead, diverse experiences should be the fuel to a well-rounded, nuanced education.

—Ebony M. Smith ’24, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Government and African-American Studies joint concentrator in Eliot House.

Pro-affirmative action demonstrators braved the rain outside the Supreme Court on Monday.
Pro-affirmative action demonstrators braved the rain outside the Supreme Court on Monday. By Julian J. Giordano

What are your hopes and fears for a potential future without affirmative action?

We all belong here. No matter how we got here, we deserve our place at Harvard. ‘We’ encompasses all the people who inhabit this institution, no matter their personal identities. This diversity in ‘we,’ foundational to humanity’s strength, is facing a potentially fatal blow by society’s most privileged. No matter the outcome of this case, I hope the movement for more racial equality and diversity in our educational, professional, and personal spaces will continue to push forward. Diversity is the engine of progress. I fear that we may have forgotten that.

—Hea Pushpraj ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Straus Hall.

One of the main questions to grapple with during this case is at what point in time race-conscious admissions policies will have completed their task. When can we trust admissions processes are offering Black applicants a fair shot? Who knows. Right now — on a campus where Generational African American numbers are already particularly low — affirmative action is necessary. A negative future, where affirmative action ends abruptly, is one where our campuses de-diversify and American educational attainment diminishes. A positive future, where there is no longer any need for affirmative action because systemic racism has vanished, must be earned.

—Sterling Bland ’23, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a joint concentrator in Sociology and African American Studies in Quincy House.

The end of affirmative action will be an opportunity for Harvard to begin promoting socioeconomic diversity, a factor that plays a much more significant role in admissions criteria like the SAT than differences in race. Yet, parental income does not entirely explain test outcomes: racial disparities still play a tragic role. Affirmative action is ending before its purpose has been realized.

—Jacob M. Miller ’25 is a Crimson Editorial editor in Lowell House.

In the Report on Harvard & the Legacy of Slavery, the University pledged to move from “recommendations to action” in rectifying the institution’s direct ties to slavery and complicity in the historical subjugation of Black people. From the moment of the report’s release, I was dubious that the $100 million set aside would produce significant change. Without affirmative action, I am terrified. Harvard’s intentions to reckon with its dark history — a history that includes enslaved children who labored in Harvard Hall and donors who derived their wealth from the exploitation of enslaved people on Caribbean sugar plantations — necessarily require it to be intentional about ensuring that it opens its gates to a diverse group of students for whom this institution was not founded.

—Ericka S. Familia ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Adams House.

I am disappointed — not only because affirmative action will likely come to an end in the very near future, but also due to the fact that I am unsurprised. This decision would support a disheartening trend of SCOTUS social regression which stands to negatively impact millions. Affirmative action is necessary in promoting diversity and equity, and essential in raising the voices of underrepresented populations. This likely decision begs the question: Will future attempts to ensure admissions diversity post-affirmative action come close to being enough? With a skeptical and heavy heart, all I can say is that I hope so.

—Gracia A. Perala ’25, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Straus Hall.

My single happiest point on this board across the years has been the evolution of the board itself — its shifts to become more inclusive, more willing to defy precedent, and, particularly, more diverse in every sense. I fear what the fall of affirmative action will do to The Crimson (both at the Editorial Board and writ large) and other organizations that have only recently begun to display and benefit from the vast array of perspectives our campus and society have to offer. The next few years will be ones of bleeding — bleeding talent, bleeding faces, bleeding opportunity. Campus spaces will progressively become more homogenous, every graduating class passing the torch to marginally less representative one. Spaces (social, professional, extracurricular) with budding diversity will wither, dry and revert to their older forms; their products (networks, newspapers, events) will reflect that drought. It's highly likely that, by the time I leave next year, this very board will be on a slow but steady track to become more monochromatic than it has been in years. That makes me deeply sad.

—Guillermo S. Hava ’23-’24, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a joint Government and Philosophy concentrator in Winthrop House.