WOOSTER, Ohio – On Saturday, July 7, Wooster President Sarah R. Bolton emailed the following statement to the campus community concerning the recent revocation of earlier federal guidance on matters of diversity and affirmative action in higher education:
To the Wooster Community,
On Tuesday, the federal Education and Justice Departments revoked several sets of prior guidance regarding diversity and affirmative action. I have been asked whether these revocations will alter our commitments to strengthening diversity, equity and inclusion at Wooster. They will not. We will continue to pursue these commitments with urgency, using the approaches we’ve developed together. (These are described in our Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Strategic Plan (.pdf).)
The administrative revocation of the prior guiding documents does not change the fundamental status of the law, as decided most recently in the U.S. Supreme Court in 2016. Secretary DeVos has advised colleges and universities to use the Supreme Court’s decisions as guidance, and Wooster’s approaches to increasing the diversity, equity and inclusiveness of our campus community were already fully in compliance with the requirements outlined by the court1.
It is not only legally permissible for us to continue our progress – it is also crucial to Wooster’s mission that we do so. As was recognized by our founding president, Willis Lord, students learn best when they study in a community that spans a wide range of experiences, traditions, identities, perspectives, and beliefs. In his inaugural address in 1866, Lord wrote
“[This institution] should be not only a place of all studies; it should be a place of studies for all…. The essential test of citizenship in the commonwealth of science and letters should be character, mental and moral quality, and attainment, not condition, race, color, or sex.”
In a world where opportunity is not distributed equally, creating a genuinely diverse, welcoming and inclusive campus community, where all have equitable opportunities to thrive, is central to Wooster’s promise and to our future. While these principles are rooted in the history of our college, fully realizing them now requires shared determination and action. We will continue to move forward, together.
Sarah Bolton, President