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U.S. education secretary tells Wesleyan students SCOTUS affirmative action decision was 'wrong'

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks with first-generation Wesleyan University students about the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts on college campuses. This comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision brought an end to affirmative action.
Tyler Russell
/
Connecticut Public
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona speaks with first-generation Wesleyan University students about the importance of diversity and inclusion efforts on college campuses. This comes in the wake of a recent Supreme Court decision brought an end to affirmative action.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona spoke with first generation students at Wesleyan University in Connecticut Friday, to discuss diversity on college campuses.

Cardona spoke about the Biden-Harris Administration’s efforts following the Supreme Court’s decision to ban race-based affirmative action in college admissions.

His visit to Wesleyan also followed the U.S. Department of Education’s National Summit on Equal Opportunity in Higher Education where senior White House officials discussed strategies to reimagine college admissions, build affordable college pipelines, and create inclusive campus communities that support students of color completing their degrees.

“We all have a responsibility to make sure universities are welcoming places for all students from different backgrounds ... different races but also different experiences,” Cardona said. “We have the talent in Connecticut. Across the country, we have to be more intentional about seeking students and making sure they feel welcome and they belong in our universities.”

During the roundtable discussion students said they want politicians to listen to all their voices and not just rely on procured statements from the student government. Students emphasized that they want administrators to listen to students of color and marginalized voices.

“Each one of these students here today told me that one of the things they benefit most from at Wesleyan is learning in an environment that’s diverse,” Cardona said. “You have people from different countries, different parts of the state, different backgrounds, that leads to better solutions that leads to stronger sense of empathy and looking at different perspectives.”

Cardona said the lines between K-12 schools and universities should be blurred so students can experience what attending a university would be like. It starts out with school districts and guidance counselors having conversations with colleges and universities about students they feel stand out.

“This affirmative action decision by the Supreme Court, which I believe is wrong, is giving us an opportunity to really be innovative," Cardona said. To "blur the lines between K-12 and higher education and give more access to more students."

Secretary Cardona said students who are interested in attending college should be introduced to higher education institutions early on. He said students should be able to take college courses and get the experience of being in a higher ed environment, so students feel like they belong and going to a college or university is within reach for them.

“As a first generation college student myself, it was that experience for me in junior year that made me feel like, I’m college material," he said. "A lot of students don’t know that, unless they have that experience."

Lesley Cosme Torres is an Education Reporter at Connecticut Public. She reports on education inequities across the state and also focuses on Connecticut's Hispanic and Latino residents, with a particular focus on the Puerto Rican community. Her coverage spans from LGBTQ+ discrimination in K-12 schools, book ban attempts across CT, student mental health concerns, and more. She reports out of Fairfield county and Hartford.

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