Statement on Supreme Court Affirmative Action Decision

Letters to the Community
June 29, 2023

Dear students, staff and faculty,

Today the Supreme Court ruled on two related cases: Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina. Specifically, the Court ruled that the affirmative action admission systems used by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill do not comply with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Smith was founded with an access mission for women. We write this letter as the president and president-elect of this great college to affirm our commitment to Smith’s ongoing work to create an inclusive and equitable educational community, because we know our community is stronger when it includes people with a variety of backgrounds and experiences.

We will comply with the Court’s decision. At the same time, the college will continue to work to ensure that our student body remains diverse. Our admissions process is a holistic one that considers various aspects of an applicant’s background and experiences—including grades, curriculum, extracurricular activities, work experience, geography, socioeconomic background and more—so that each applicant’s unique voice and perspective are fully appreciated.

Our commitment to college access has resulted in several new programs that are points of pride for all in our community. We have eliminated loans from our financial aid packages, and we meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need of each and every student. We work with nonprofit organizations like QuestBridge, Chicago Scholars and College Match to attract the nation’s brightest students from low-income backgrounds. We are a longstanding partner with the Posse Foundation which prepares students to lead in a diverse society. And we continue to equalize opportunities for students, for example by eliminating lab fees; offering $1,000 startup grants to our high-need students; making $3,500 grants available to every student to finance unpaid internships; and providing financial resources to support a wide variety of student needs, from medical care to course books. All of these actions enable Smith to attract a diverse student body that contributes to the richness of life on our campus.

Our commitment to equity and inclusion goes beyond our admissions process. The Toward Racial Justice strategic plan includes action items from each department and unit intended to guide community engagement, learning, identity affirmation, operations and recruitment to foster a sense of belonging for everyone at Smith.

There were myriad amicus briefs in support of Harvard College and the University of North Carolina, signed by corporations, state governors, the military, professional organizations and institutions of higher education. They all argued that our society requires diverse leaders who are able to work together, to understand perspectives other than their own and to identify and correct implicit bias. To address society’s most pressing challenges, we need people whose backgrounds and experiences reflect those of our nation.

Despite the Supreme Court’s decision, we remain committed to the principle that our identities and backgrounds enrich our community, clarify our values and inform our actions.


Kathleen McCartney

Sarah Willie-LeBreton
President Elect