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Updated: July 6, 2023

Maine private colleges stand ground on diversity in wake of Supreme Court ruling

Campus Photo / Michele Stapleton Bowdoin, Bates and Colby colleges have all pledged to continue to put a priority on diversity despite a Supreme Court ruling last week against race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina. Bowdoin's Brunswick campus is shown here.

Three prominent private liberal arts colleges in Maine will stand their ground on diversity in the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling deeming race-conscious admissions programs at Harvard and the University of North Carolina unconstitutional.

Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges all issued statements in response to last week’s ruling, after joining 30 other institutions nationwide in an amicus curiae or "friend of the court" brief in support of the policy.

“Colby’s mission is education and scholarship, which is greatly enriched in a diverse community of learners and scholars,” Colby President David A. Greene said in a June 29 communication to the Colby community.

“Deep learning and groundbreaking discoveries are fostered through rigorous processes that consider a wide range of perspectives. In contrast, homogeneity of thought and experience can lead to groupthink and ultimately censor ideas and viewpoints that reveal truths and understanding. Diversity of experience and thought strengthen our mission."

As Colby reviews the Supreme Court's decision, the Waterville school "will be focusing on how, within the new legal framework, we can continue to build excellence through diversity,” Greene added.

Bowdoin and Bates

At Bowdoin College in Brunswick, outgoing President Clayton Rose issued a June 29 statement before handing over the reins to Safa Zaki on July 1.

“President-elect Safa Zaki and I have discussed these cases, and we share the view that today’s decision undermines the essential work to create an educational environment and experience that prepares students for the diverse worlds of work and of informed political and social engagement.”

Rose also said that while the Brunswick school will review the court’s opinion and comply with its mandates, he reiterated that  “we will never back away from our commitment to build and sustain a truly diverse community where everyone has the opportunity for an equitable experience and an enduring sense of belonging.” 

At Bates College in Lewiston where there has also been a change in leadership, a joint statement was issued on June 29 by outgoing President Clayton Spencer and her successor, Garry Jenkins. Jenkins took the helm on July 1.

“We are deeply disappointed by today’s decision by the Supreme Court, a ruling that turns back the clock on 45 years of established constitutional principle and significantly restricts the admissions practices used at many colleges and universities, including Bates,” the statement said.

They also said they won’t allow the decision to diminish the school’s commitment to current students or those it will continue to seek out, and use the opportunity to think creatively and experiment with new strategies consistent with the law.

“Now, as before, we will meet students where they are — at their high schools, in their college-access programs, and in their local communities,” they continued. “We will also make clear how hard we work to create a welcoming and inclusive environment on campus so that all students are supported to do their best work and thrive in the classroom and beyond." 

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