An Open Letter to UVA President James E. Ryan

This article was published today by the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal. To read the full article click here.

The university’s admissions processes must comply with the Constitution.

by Walter L. Smith

The University of Virginia is facing a choice of historic significance: namely, whether to embrace admissions policies based on our colorblind Constitution or to engage in mass resistance to the supreme law of the land.

In Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and UNC, the United States Supreme Court held that the admissions programs at Harvard and UNC violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court’s ruling is, of course, binding on the parties themselves. However, this was no narrow decision. The broad constitutional mandate of colorblindness underlying the majority opinion is applicable to the University of Virginia, as well.

UVA’s Response

On August 1, 2023, in response to the landmark decision, university leaders issued a statement outlining the institution’s new admissions procedures. “The Court has made it clear,” the statement read in part, “that colleges and universities may not consider race, for its own sake, in their admission decisions. […] We will follow the law.”

However, the statement went on: “We also will do everything within our legal authority to recruit and admit a class of students who are diverse across every possible dimension and to make every student feel welcome and included here at UVA.” Continue reading.

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G Berg
G Berg
7 months ago

Mr.Smith’s statement is a model of moral clarity. I hope it is widely distributed among faculty groups across the country including my alma mater at UC-Berkeley
Em Prof History
Sweet Briar College

Pamela Denise Long
7 months ago

The SCOTUS ruling absolutely did not mandate “colorblindness.” It didn’t mandate colorblindness because the U.S. Constitution has never been colorblind and is not colorblind. And nothing about the post-civil war 14th amendment equal protections clause is colorblind. The June 2023 SCOTUS decision said racial consideration (such as Affirmative Action) was due to the American Negro/Freedmen experience from a lineage of harm rooted in racial discrimination. Therefore an applicant has to clarify how he/she was harmed or shaped by harm on a racial basis for their race to even matter…because affirmative action wasn’t intended for every race it was intended for American Negroes who bear the burdens of the harms based on lineage/legacy/injured class. OUR Negro AA is lineage-based, not race-based. – Denise

Last edited 7 months ago by Pamela Denise Long
walter smith
walter smith
7 months ago

So what is your solution? Negro AA forever? Or only when everything is “equal?”
Does behavior matter? How much slavery descent is enough to claim affirmative action privilege? Are we going back to the one drop rule? That seems kinda racist to me.
Can Irish descendants claim affirmative action rights for their treatment? How about Chinese and Japanese? Jews? I think it is almost a mathematical certainty that everyone, if you could trace the lineage back that far, would have ancestors who were slaves AND owned slaves.
You do know the whole affirmative action regime grew out of an executive order by Nixon to address racial discrimination in construction, right?
How did things go from “a hand up, not a hand out” to the current quota regime?
The Supreme Court erred in leaving the language open about how race could affect character in the “holistic” review, and I have no reason to think UVA will comply with the spirit of the law. Pessimistically, I think it will be another 20 years before another Court decision to put an end to this corrosive doctrine that judges people by “race.”
So please define “success” and when we can have MLK’s judging people by content of character and not the color of their skin.

7 months ago

Is it not true that whether considering the affirmative action issue or the recent Palestinian issue that there is a current pervasive university based effort to promote victimhood? Has victimhood(i.e. lack of self responsibility as elucidated by Freud and Jung) ever served the best interests of anyone, especially as to flourishing while in this journey? Has any avatar ever encouraged a victimhood identity as a path to transcending the human condition so as to discard and shed the hate, anger, and self loathing to the point of insanity?
Meanwhile, the harm inflicted by those who as faculty and university administrators/ideologues is front and center and clear for all to see. And yet they believe they do no harm. I recall the words of one Avatar who simply summarized, “forgive them for they know not what they do.”
On some level they do actually know what they are doing, and thereby take on the guilt willingly. It is their choice but thankfully it is not mine.
PDL, you are given the same choice. Good luck.