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SGO Underscores Importance of Holistic, Race-Conscious Admissions Processes

SGO Statement
Nov 16, 2022

On October 31, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Students for Fair Admissions v. University of NC and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President & Fellows of Harvard College, two cases that could affect the ability of colleges and universities nationwide to utilize race-conscious admissions practices. While these particular cases involve college admissions practices, at their essence, a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that bans the use of holistic, race-conscious admissions practices will undoubtedly have an untoward effect on the way trainees in gynecologic oncology are recruited and selected.

The members of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology (SGO) value diverse learning environments that help our members solve complex medical problems, drive innovative and translational scientific investigation, sharpen critical thinking skills, and break down stereotypes to reduce bias. Furthermore, SGO embraces diversity as we strive to cultivate a more representative interprofessional workforce better prepared to address the complex sociodemographic challenges faced by patients with gynecologic malignancies.

The best way to build a vibrant and diverse group of trainees and subsequent workforce in gynecologic oncology is to use holistic admissions processes previously upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. Since 1978, when the ability to implement a holistic, race-conscious admissions process was affirmed in the Supreme Court decision Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, successive Courts have continued to uphold the constitutionality of this practice, most notably in 2003 in Grutter v. Bollinger, and as recently as 2016, in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin. In states where race-conscious admissions processes have been banned, such as California and Michigan, institutions of higher education have struggled to maintain diverse student bodies. For example, the number of Black and Latino applicants to medical schools in those states has dropped precipitously since these bans were adopted. Nine states have already banned race-conscious admissions practices by voter referendum, executive order or legislation to date.

Diversity is forward-thinking, mission-driven, and focuses on the strategic and aspirational educational interests that will ultimately best serve our patients. The SGO stands by this vision and call on the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the legality of holistic, race-conscious admissions processes.