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Bailey warns Missouri universities and local leaders to end affirmative action policies

St. Louis Public Radio
Attorney General Andrew Bailey warned the state's universities to end affirmative action policies in the wake of a Supreme Court decision Thursday.

The University of Missouri system has already announced it will discontinue programs that use race or ethnicity as a factor in admissions or scholarships.

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey issued a warning to universities and municipalities across the state to immediately end race-based affirmative action policies.

His order Thursday came after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that colleges and universities can’t consider race as one of many factors in deciding which of the qualified applicants is to be admitted.

Bailey directed his letter to the University of Missouri System, Missouri State University — and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas and Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe.

The letter states that, “In recent years, the Supreme Court has created confusion by acknowledging that racial classifications are presumptively unconstitutional while simultaneously upholding so-called ‘affirmative action’ college admission programs that systemically disfavor applicants because of race. Today’s Supreme Court decisions against Harvard and the University of North Carolina resolve this previous contradiction.”

In response to the Supreme Court’s ruling, Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin sent a letter to students stating: “While we must respect and abide by this decision, it’s important for you to know one thing: Our commitment to cultivating, welcoming, and supporting a diverse student body that includes individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and perspectives has not changed and will not change.”

The chancellor added that the university will review the court’s decision to figure out how to adjust their admissions process in accordance with the ruling.

The University of Missouri system however, already has taken action following the ruling, stating: “As allowed by prior law, a small number of our programs and scholarships have used race/ethnicity as a factor for admissions and scholarships. Those practices will be discontinued, and we will abide by the new Supreme Court ruling concerning legal standards that applies to race-based admissions and race-based scholarships.”

The universities will still honor financial aid commitments already awarded to our returning and incoming students.

In Illinois, the Southern Illinois University System issued a statement that noted: “While the SIU System does not use race as a factor in undergraduate admissions decisions, our campus leaders are deeply concerned about the court’s decision.”

“Today’s ruling coupled with similar decisions in several states across the country, may embolden critics of diversity and reverse generations of progress at colleges, universities and the nation.”

Affirmative action policies became prominent after the Civil Rights-era as more institutions attempted to equalize access for racial minorities and women. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the decades-long policies could also potentially affect institutions beyond higher education, including primary and secondary education, as well as employment opportunities.

Copyright 2023 St. Louis Public Radio. To see more, visit St. Louis Public Radio.

Lara Hamdan joined St. Louis Public Radio as the news intern in 2017 and went on to become a producer for St. Louis on the Air before her latest role as the newsroom's Engagement Editor. A St. Louis native, Lara studied journalism and international relations at Webster University. She's fluent in English and Arabic – and in eating falafel sandwiches and veggie burgers. She enjoys discovering new people and gems in the city throughout her work at St. Louis Public Radio.
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