Editorial Snippets: The Post-Affirmative Action Edition

By The Crimson Editorial Staff
By Julian J. Giordano

Last year, as the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Students for Fair Admissions Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, we asked our Editorial editors to share their hopes and fears for the uncertain but likely future without affirmative action.

On Thursday, this prediction of the future became our present reality. Now that the Supreme Court has declared Harvard’s race-conscious admissions policies unconstitutional, we have once again asked our editors to share their perspectives, offering a snapshot of the mosaic of student responses to the ruling at their most immediate and raw.

What was your first reaction to the Supreme Court’s decision?

Every weekday morning for the last three weeks, I’ve sat in The Crimson’s newsroom, our small summer team crowded around a table together, anxiously refreshing, awaiting the Court’s opinion.

Though I had been told to expect the restriction of affirmative action, I felt my heart sink when that prediction came true. I’m grateful every day for the beautifully diverse group of people I am surrounded by at Harvard. In the face of new uncertainty, I pray that such diversity can, and will, be preserved.

—McKenna E. McKrell ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Adams House

Amy Howe, of SCOTUSblog fame, has become a close friend of mine over the past weeks of awaiting this fateful decision. When her liveblog updated with “The court holds that Harvard and UNC’s admissions programs violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment,” I mouthed an audible curse at work.

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

People camp outside of the Supreme Court building, hoping to secure seats inside to hear arguments in the affirmative action cases.
People camp outside of the Supreme Court building, hoping to secure seats inside to hear arguments in the affirmative action cases. By Julian J. Giordano

As part of my daily June morning routine, I discreetly reached for my pocket, opening the notification from the New York Times. Somehow, I had already sensed the strong wave of emotions about to sweep over me.

My eyes grew misty as a ball of anxiety formed within my abdomen, forcing me to slowly grapple with the realization that the fundamental practice of race-conscious admissions, the very essence that shaped my Harvard, was now dismantled. The ruling dismissed the necessary rectification of centuries of entrenched privilege that has systematically inhibited different groups from succeeding, instead perpetuating a vicious cycle of inequality that should have been left behind in those past centuries.

—Steven Giraldo ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Adams House

I was sitting near some friends when the decision dropped. Overlooking my initial feelings, I was in shock over the reactions of those around me. Everyone kept looking at me with relieved faces, followed by sentences of “You’re already at Harvard” or “Luckily, this decision doesn’t affect you.”

My shock quickly turned into frustration over the simple point that many fail to grasp: This decision affects all of us. The apathy surrounding this moment, under the assumption that we aren’t all affected in some way by this decision, just creates more situations like this. We all must take action to change this new status quo.

—Hea Pushpraj ’25, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a History concentrator in Adams House

As a Latina, I was once a 12-year-old girl with a dream to go to Harvard. Today, my heart breaks for all the Latinas that carry this same dream in their hearts — a dream which may now go unfulfilled for reasons beyond their control. I mourn for all of the Latina, Black, and Indigenous girls who will face barriers in reaching secondary education. I mourn for all of the Latina, Black, and Indigenous women who are currently in university and may face backslides in an environment that was already not designed for us. We are resilient. We are unmoving. We are deserving.

—Shania D. Hurtado ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a Government concentrator in Currier House

This decision is incredibly unsettling and disheartening because it overlooks the many structural factors in and beyond schools that impact access to higher education for Black applicants like myself. Though I was not surprised by the decision, I did not anticipate how I would actually feel when I saw the official ruling against affirmative action. Throughout the day of the decision, I experienced a range of emotions, from wanting to distance myself from consuming any media, to wanting to get involved in activism. I am disappointed and worried for what will come.

—Zion J. Dixon ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Winthrop House

Affirmative action is a bandage on the flesh wound of white supremacy that has existed in this country since before it was a country. Yet, as a mechanism to reverse and repair the legacy of that vicious system of exclusion, Harvard preferred defending diversity for diversity’s sake. The greatest disappointment I felt after the decision had to do with the poor and working-class Black people that I grew up with. For them, a world without affirmative action is just the world as it always was — a world where reparation for the crimes of the American state is merely a pipe dream.

—Prince A. Williams ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a History concentrator in Adams House

For months, I have accepted the predictable ruling to strike down affirmative action. When I first saw the actual decision, a vestige of hope that I didn’t even know existed vanished. I am filled with empathy for Black and Indigenous high school students who are robbed of equitable access to higher education. I am filled with sadness at the devaluation of our nation’s institutions by the inevitable decline in diversity. But most importantly, I am filled with expectation that, like its students, Harvard has been preparing for the decision and will ensure that students of color are not erased from the student body like it seems this ruling intended.

—Christina N. Chaperon ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a Sociology concentrator in Adams House

What does the ruling signify to you?

We’d be remiss to discuss this decision without acknowledging the man behind it all.

Edward J. Blum, Students for Fair Admissions lodestar, is a neoconservative gadfly litigant (not a lawyer) who devoted his life to unraveling racial protections across the United States after losing an election to a Black Democrat in 1992. Upon failing to end race-conscious admissions in the 2016 Supreme Court case Fisher v. University of Texas, he explained “I needed Asian plaintiffs.”

Make no mistake. SFFA’s case is a narrative stolen by the political right to pit minorities against each other, led by the same white conservative man behind the gutting of racial protections from the Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder. History will judge him poorly.

—Matthew E. Nekritz ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Cabot House

I can’t help but feel cynical about the blatant court packing that has led to a slew of brazen conservative rulings on topics ranging from abortion rights to diversity in education. Mitch McConnell’s designation of then-President Barack Obama as a “lame duck president” certainly played a role in his decision to lead the Senate to block Merrick B. Garland ’74 from ascension to the Supreme Court. This logic appeared conspicuously absent during former President Donald Trump’s appointments of three consecutive Supreme Court justices. With each ruling that passes, the influence on our country of a president indicted on federal charges grows. Why is justice partisan?

—Max A. Palys ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Currier House

As we the collective world swarm to document this historical moment, I am confronted with the eternal question: Who gets to make history? There is certainly value in documenting our campus communities’ reactions — these Editorial snippets try to accomplish precisely this — but my mind lingers on those who will not get to join this campus and its communities.

History will judge and remember accordingly — so we hope — but this moment is about those left out of history.

—Ruby J.J. Huang ’24, an Editorial Comp Director, is a History concentrator in Leverett House

The season of college admissions is infamous for coercing individuals into chopping up their identity into marketable pieces for some faceless committee of admissions counselors. It is cruel that the burden of defending one’s identity falls on those abused by centuries of racist and prejudiced systems, and it is cruel that the next generation of college students will be forced, even more so, to fight to be fully and holistically seen.

—Ellie H. Ashby ’24, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Adams House

When I opened my Harvard decision, I was overcome with many emotions. Among the overwhelming feeling of shock, was an indelible excitement for the many opportunities offered to Harvard students and alumni — a lifetime of education both inside and outside of the classroom.

In classes whenever I have an aha moment and in spirited debates with my peers, I reflect on that moment with immense gratitude. I am lucky to have this education.

Many are not so lucky. The Supreme Court’s decision to restrict affirmative action establishes higher educational opportunities as an unequal privilege. It means that our classes may be monotonized with students who have an intrinsic upper hand, not with students who have an intrinsic potential.

It’s a familiar notion that life is not fair. But education is a rare opportunity to mitigate unfairness, and allow students the opportunity for a stable career. Overturning affirmative action signifies the misuse of education as a social divider, and I am truly distraught by this outcome.

—Sandhya Kumar ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Winthrop House

To strike down affirmative action is to deny the present reality, crafted by centuries of systemic racism, of people of color nationwide. This decision represents a loss on all fronts — a long-due reparations process has been halted, and an entire race has been reduced and weaponized against others. My struggle — the Asian American struggle — has been twisted to exacerbate that of others. I mourn for everyone involved.

—Violet T. M. Barron ’26, a Crimson Editorial editor, lives in Adams House

How will the Harvard you’ve known change without affirmative action?

Coming from the public school system in Oakland, my acceptance into Harvard was a cause for both celebration and caution. We’d heard the rumors, you see, of a college infamously monochrome and moneyed — the antithesis of the kaleidoscopic community that I called home. When I reunited with former classmates after my first fall semester in Cambridge, I was ecstatic to report that I’d found a college community that embraced and refracted the diversity of my background in its own luminous, unexpected ways. I never imagined I might have to watch that same Harvard flatten into everything we once feared it was.

—Eleanor V. Wikstrom ’24, a Crimson Editorial Chair, is a Social Studies concentrator in Adams House

The thing I love the most about Harvard are the people. Being surrounded by those of diverse ethnic backgrounds has given me the privilege to learn more about other cultures and identities, as well as reflecting on my own Hispanic heritage. I fear that this Harvard, the one endlessly flawed but beautifully diverse, is one of the past. I fear that I will be one of the last students to experience the beauty that race-conscious admissions brings to a campus. Those who follow me are not only at risk of feeling out of place at elite institutions, but also of lacking the vital role that affinity organizations currently play in student life at Harvard.

—David I. González ’25, a Crimson Editorial Editor, is a double concentrator in Psychology and Economics in Kirkland House

I wasn’t very optimistic about the decision, but seeing the 6-2 ruling felt like a punch to the stomach. I fell in love with Harvard at Visitas, its visit weekend for admitted students, because everyone I met had a unique story to tell of how they arrived at the College’s doorstep. It was completely different from the stories I’d heard of Harvard’s community as monochrome and privileged. This year in my writing class, discussing systemic racism in the justice system was so enlightening exactly because of each student’s unique experience with the system allowing them to offer distinct perspectives. I fear that the Harvard community I’ve come to know and love is being forced a step back in history, towards its uglier past.

—Autumn Shin ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Quincy House

To people who haven’t lived in one, the idea of a diverse college can reduce to an arbitrary game of numbers, or a mouthful of bloodless, legalistic abstractions. To me, the diverse community I have known at Harvard has gorgeous vibrancy: a place uniquely teeming with opportunities to learn the beauty, pain, and knowledge — the insight of what it means to be human — that other cultures have obtained in the long arc of their particular history.

These truths are not conveyed in grand treatises, of course; they come quietly, in small, mundane moments of exchange. When I think of a diverse Harvard, I think of how special it is that, just in the course of living here, I have learned from friends that “Oluwa” is a common component of Yoruba names and means “God”; that Medellin, Colombia, is called the city of eternal spring for its ever-temperate weather; that Tibet, a nation long unfree, is known as “the Roof of the World.”

I can’t quite tell you why I so cherish these morsels, but I can say for certain that I mourn the loss of those who will not have the opportunity to do the same.

—Tommy Barone ’25, an Editorial Comp Director, is a Social Studies concentrator in Currier House

I’m glad the words “I love Harvard for its people” sound like a cliche. They’re true for us, I’m sure in no small part, because Harvard’s racial diversity helps it live up to its values. Within Harvard, affirmative action’s fall threatens to change the sincerity with which students — especially minority students — recognize their school as an equally welcoming and perspective-challenging home.

Outside of Harvard, it weakens systems which sought to dismantle historically ingrained racial inequities. I fear that in seeking to avoid discrimination on paper, the Supreme Court has perpetuated discrimination in practice. It’s made the future of Harvard’s people, and the advancement of our values, uncertain.

—Emily N. Dial ’25, a Crimson Editorial and Associate Design Editor, is a Philosophy concentrator in Adams House

I come from a small, white town in the mountains. Harvard, it seemed, was just as homogenous, albeit more urban and liberal.

I couldn’t have been more wrong. Every day, I’m challenged to step outside of my paradigm by people I never would have met otherwise. It has been the most illustrative and wonderful experience of my life. The whole Harvard community benefits from diversity. The death of race-conscious admissions makes the task of creating a diverse, welcoming community undoubtedly harder. However, I am encouraged by how hard Harvard has fought, and the limited opinion offered by the Court.

—Vander O. B. Ritchie ’26, a Crimson Editorial Editor, lives in Leverett House

From left, former Harvard President Drew G. Faust, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, and former Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow William F. Lee '72 exit the Supreme Court after oral arguments in the affirmative action cases.
From left, former Harvard President Drew G. Faust, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons '67, Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana, and former Harvard Corporation Senior Fellow William F. Lee '72 exit the Supreme Court after oral arguments in the affirmative action cases. By Julian J. Giordano

How Harvard will change is up to its administrators. The University has an opportunity to accept defeat, reneging on its forceful public commitments to diversity, or to meaningfully amend its admissions process to continue to cultivate the diverse environment we all cherish. There’s never been a better juncture to end legacy admissions and begin to earnestly recruit more low-income students. I hope Harvard will seize the moment.

—Lucas T. Gazianis ’24, an Associate Editorial Editor, is a Social Studies concentrator in Currier House