About the Affirmative Action Coalition
We're committed to organizing to ensure that UNC-Chapel Hill's campus is diverse and safe for all students, faculty, and staff of color.
In a post-affirmative action world, the mission of the Coalition is to (1) educate existing UNC students on the importance of racial equity and advocate for inclusive policies on campus, particularly against the backdrop of UNC's history; and (2) create pathways encouraging NC students from communities of color to apply to Carolina and make their voices heard. We condemn all attacks on diversity and student expression from political actors and UNC administrators and strive to create spaces for students of historically resilient identities and allies to feel represented and heard.
Background of SFFA v. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In 2014, Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) filed two lawsuits - one against Harvard College, a private institution, and the other against UNC-Chapel Hill, a public institution - to eradicate established legal precedent that allows colleges to consider the race of applicants when making a decision on acceptance. Edward Blum, an affirmative action opponent and leader of SFFA, claimed that UNC's admissions process gave unfair preference to applicants from historically resilient communities over white and Asian American prospective students. On the other hand, UNC-Chapel Hill argues that utilizing race as an admissions factor is essential for educational benefits.
More information can be found on the website of the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented UNC-Chapel Hill in district and national cases, by clicking here.
Our Initial Work at UNC's Campus
After hearing about the upcoming case from local Asian American interest organization NCAAT, we were surprised by how essential this case was to future admissions policies at UNC - and how little other students on campus knew about the impact of affirmative action. In the month between our formation and the oral arguments at the Supreme Court, our initial scrappy group of four undergraduate students hosted education summits; tabled in the Pit, our hub for student life and activity; collaborated with other affinity groups on campus, from the Black Student Movement to Latine-interest organization Mi Pueblo and indigenous group Carolina Indian Circle; met with national organizations such as AAJC and the Lawyer's Committee as well as students from Harvard and Yale passionate about the case; and mobilized dozens of Tar Heels through our successful social media campaign on why affirmative action is important to us at Carolina. We were honored and grateful to be able to travel up to Washington, D.C. for the oral arguments, and to speak on the steps of the Supreme Court about our work at UNC in defending diversity.
We have been working on curating a list of demands to UNC administrators and the College of Arts and Sciences, where the majority of undergraduate Tar Heels are based, to hold the institution accountable for supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives in the case that affirmative action policies are nationally overturned. We are working with the Vice Provost of DEI, the Associate Dean for DEI in the College of Arts and Sciences, staff in the undergraduate admissions department, professors, student organizations, and national civil rights groups to ensure that our work is equitable and guarantees current and future students of color at UNC feel supported and valued.
Why Our Work is Important
UNC-Chapel Hill is the first public university in the United States, but it has a long history of racism and segregation - from the indigenous land the campus is settled on to the buildings on North Campus constructed by the labor of enslaved people. Even in recent years, UNC has been under fire for keeping the Confederate Silent Sam monument up until it was torn down by protesters, to refusing to offer a tenured position to Nikole Hannah Jones for her work on the 1619 Project, and failing to support striking housekeepers, who are primarily people of color, by raising their wages. Turnover rates of faculty of color are high, and students of color have expressed feeling invalidated or unsafe by policies on UNC campus. While our work to support race-conscious admissions and maintain diversity on our campus is only a small piece of the puzzle, the background of our campus motivates us to ensure that future generations of Tar Heels feel protected and loved at Carolina.
Our Work, Post-SCOTUS Decision
The 6-3 decision of the Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action on June 29, 2023 was, while unsurprising, extremely frustrating and disappointing to our team and our partner organizations. This ruling will not only affect race-conscious admissions at UNC, but will negatively impact diversity, equity, and inclusion at universities across the country. However, we will not be discouraged by this ruling. We will continue to fight for equity for underrepresented groups and maintain diversity on our campus. We promise to continue creating a safe and inclusive environment for students at UNC of all identities and vow to stand up for historically resilient communities nationwide.
We are calling all students, faculty, staff, and community members to submit a sentence or two on what this decision means to you and why diversity & inclusion is important. Your statements will help us curate a list of demands to deliver to UNC Administration in the wake of this decision. Submit here.
Our Campus Team
Our Advisory Board
We work with different UNC administrators, staff, professors, students, and other advocacy organizations to ensure that the work we do is making a tangible impact on defending diversity on our campus.