Supreme Court Decisions
30 June 2023
Dear Campus Community,
This week, the Supreme Court released a number of decisions that directly impact many of our San José State University community members. This is a time for us to support one another, reflect on our values, and continue to take institutional actions that affirm and leverage what research of the past 20+ years have told us: Diversity matters. Diversity makes us smarter and more compassionate human beings. Your presence matters and you belong here. Our University Learning Goals are clear - the SJSU experience is designed to ensure that students have the power to be lifelong learners and have successful futures. The ability for “students to live and work intelligently, responsibly, and cooperatively in a multicultural society and to develop abilities to address complex issues and problems” cannot happen without a diverse community that is working toward equity and engaging in inclusive practices. This week’s set of SCOTUS rulings are not aligned with these values.
The Supreme Court ruling overturning affirmative action is profoundly disappointing. It ignores the legacy of enslavement and systemic discrimination in our country, and the extensive research that documents the educational benefits of a diverse campus on educational outcomes and innovation. While all public California colleges and universities have operated under Proposition 209, the law that prohibits race as a factor in admission and public-sector contracts since 1996, it has resulted in significant decreases in higher education access of people from marginalized communities and is not a model policy for the country. Research shows that a lack of access to higher education has a direct link to the persistent wealth gap of Black/African American and other historically under-resourced communities.
SJSU continues to strive towards addressing systemic inequities by identifying the barriers to access, thoughtfully refining our fully comprehensive admission process, and resourcing retention programs for our fully qualified and historically under-resourced student populations. We remain committed to increasing access and removing barriers for all students, thereby ensuring our students are prepared to embrace a future full of possibility, with employment and economic security.
The court’s decision Friday to strike down the administration’s student loan forgiveness plan, represents another potential real-world obstacle for students. As an institution, we will continue to advocate for affordable pathways to higher education.
And as we conclude Pride Month celebrations, we know that the efforts to address LGBTQ+ discrimination go far beyond the month of June. The court’s decision from the Colorado anti-discrimination law case as well as the onslaught of other anti-LBGTQ legislation being created across the country, has left many of our community members with feelings of sadness, fear, anger, and even more unsure of their safety and ability to just live their lives. We affirm that true inclusion means that all marginalized communities should have equal access to goods and services without fear of unjust discrimination. For almost 15 years our campus PRIDE Center has served and will continue to serve as a place where the LGBTQ+ community can turn to for support and advocacy. SJSU has a long history of LGBTQ+ activism and remains an institution where the LGBTQ+ community is welcomed, honored, and celebrated.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor in dissent to the Elenis holding [pdf] reminds us that none of this is new:
Around the country, there has been a backlash to the movement for liberty and equality for gender and sexual minorities. New forms of inclusion have been met with reactionary exclusion. This is heartbreaking. Sadly, it is also familiar. When the civil rights and women’s rights movements sought equality in public life, some public establishments refused. Some even claimed, based on sincere religious beliefs, constitutional rights to discriminate. The brave Justices who once sat on this Court decisively rejected those claims."
These decisions this week are heartbreaking but the work must continue. Our SJSU values remain clear and strong. Diversity is a strength and enriches the educational experience while preparing students to be compassionate individuals who are able to see wholeness and humanity in others. Diversity and difference in a student body reflects the complexities and realities of the world and human experiences that we exist in. Diversity of thought and discussion are the bedrock of a rigorous academic education.
As we look towards the future, we can find hope in one another. Our SJSU community is composed of students, staff, faculty, and alumni who are living full lives, continuously striving to create a better world for all. These rulings go against our values, but our determination remains clear and persistent.
Dawn Lee, Ph.D.
Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Resources For Students:
If you have a mental health emergency and need immediate assistance please contact Counseling and Psychological Services. There is always a staff member available to assist you. Please call 408-924-5910 or visit us at sjsu.edu/wellness. All of our services are being offered either in person or online through confidential video or phone sessions. You may also call Counseling and Psychological Services’ main number 408-924-5910 after hours and press 4 to connect with our after-hours crisis service.
Resources For Employees:
Visit LifeMatters® for more information. Password: SPARTANS
To speak with someone from LifeMatters® confidentially, call 800-367-7474.
Resources for the SJSU Community
You may also call the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline by dialing or texting 9-8-8. In addition, you may contact the Crisis Text Line by sending a text for help: Text HOME to 741741. Both lines are available 24/7.
If you are experiencing discrimination and need assistance, contact the Office for Equal Opportunity or Report a Bias Incident here
Report Concerns to SJSU University Police:
For after-hours emergencies, please call 911. If you live on campus, please call campus police at 408-924-2222.