As a Catholic and Jesuit university established in the spirit of the new republic, Georgetown was founded on the principle that discourse among people of different faiths, cultures and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding.
As President DeGioia communicated in a university-wide message sent in the wake of the June 29 Supreme Court ruling, Georgetown is and continues to be deeply disappointed with the rulings on Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College and Students for Fair Admissions v. University of North Carolina.
Despite our disappointment, our view that student-body diversity deeply enhances our community has not changed. We will continue to comply with the law while employing all permissible strategies to live out our mission by cultivating and supporting an even more diverse Hoya community.
As our University mission statement indicates, Georgetown “was founded on the principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes intellectual, ethical and spiritual understanding.”
Our mission statement continues: “We embody this principle in the diversity of our students, faculty and staff, our commitment to justice and the common good, our intellectual openness and our international character.”
So not only is the decision deeply disappointing, it may impact the ability of faith-based institutions, like Georgetown, to carry out our missions. Last year, Georgetown led 56 Catholic colleges and universities in filing an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold race-conscious admissions practices in two cases that challenged its 40+ year legal precedent. This amicus brief was cited in Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s dissent, noting that race-conscious admissions not only serve the academic goals of Catholic universities but also their religious missions.
Classroom dynamics and the quality of the educational experience of all of our students is enhanced by the presence and engagement of racially and ethnically diverse students on our campuses. The Court’s ruling does not negate the significant body of empirical evidence developed and presented by scholars who have consistently documented the benefits of having students from all backgrounds studying and working in inclusive classrooms throughout America’s colleges and universities.
While we continue reviewing our processes and programs to ensure compliance with the Court’s decision, we remain committed to deploying all permissible strategies to promote a diverse community and to ensure that people from all backgrounds feel welcome, valued, respected and supported.
Our top priority is to ensure that all members of our community who are impacted by this decision receive the support and care they need. Georgetown has a long history of developing programs and resources to help students from a wide range of backgrounds feel welcomed and supported, such as the Georgetown Scholars Program and the Community Scholars Program.
We are also continuing our many pipeline programs that help recruit and prepare students from all backgrounds. These include the Institute for College Preparation, partnerships with D.C. Public Schools, the Knowledge Is Power Program schools, the national Cristo Rey Network and others.
Finally, Georgetown will take the same approach we do with so many challenging issues in the public discourse: continue to discern, engage and be part of the solution. This decision is a call to action and an opportunity. We will double down on our efforts to promote a diverse community at Georgetown and throughout higher education and work to ensure all members of our community feel supported on our campus.
Although this ruling is a new call to action, our mission has not changed. Our Jesuit tradition informs our care for the whole person. We celebrate the breadth of the lived experiences of our community members, the innate gifts they bring and our ability to learn from each other. We’ve been engaged in this work for centuries. Our commitment to our mission may expand and deepen, and our actions will reflect our undying commitment to principles articulated above.
Rosemary Kilkenny is Georgetown’s vice president for institutional diversity, equity and inclusion and the university’s chief diversity officer.