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Three Questions Answered: The Supreme Court’s Decision on Affirmative Action at U.S. Colleges

SFCM reaffirms its commitment to diversity and belonging on campus and in the arts in the context of today’s ruling.

June 29, 2023 by SFCM News

As colleges and universities across the country work together to assess and respond to today’s Supreme Court ruling curtailing affirmative action, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music (SFCM) is continuing efforts to cultivate an equitable and diverse future for education and music.

“Every student who has entered SFCM has met our rigorous audition requirements, but true equity and inclusion is predicated on active support of our underserved communities,” said SFCM President David Stull. “Education is about opportunity, and we remain absolutely committed to providing the opportunities necessary to expand the beautiful diversity of our school that inspires all of us.”

How is SFCM thinking about admissions at this moment?

“We are reviewing the Court’s decision and affirming our role in uplifting students, including those who identify as low-income, first generation, or from an otherwise underserved background.

“While the Supreme Court held that certain race-conscious admissions practices do not comply with principles of the equal protection clause of the Civil Rights Act, it also stated that ‘nothing in this opinion should be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant's discussion of how race affected his or her life.’”

-SFCM Director of Admissions Lisa Nickels

What resources are available to current students who are concerned about today’s Supreme Court ruling?

“Our goal is to make SFCM, the school we love, a place where diverse voices are heard, represented, and embraced.

“We welcome dialogue about every element of the human experience, and recognize it necessarily brings debate, predicated on diversity of thought and experience. The faculty and staff of this institution are committed to providing a healthy forum for this kind of education. There is a form available on our website for students to submit anonymous concerns and questions, and we anticipate the return of students this fall will lead to even more robust conversations.

“Of course, SFCM’s work extends into the broader community. Two examples are our Emerging Black Composers Project, a 10-year commitment that awards commissions for Black artists along with guaranteed premieres at major orchestras and our partnership with the San Francisco Ballet for the Denis de Coteau Fellowship, which advances opportunities for Black musicians with tuition, housing, and stipends.

“What’s more, all students are welcome to meet with me, and this is an opportunity for students to become involved with any of our student affinity groups. From our Black Student Union, Korean Club, and LatinX Club to our Pride Network and beyond, our hope is that our student groups provide safe spaces for musicians of all identities.

“As a reminder, counseling services are also available to all students at SFCM and can be arranged by reaching out to Dean Timothy Dunn.”

–SFCM Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Executive Director of Roots, Jazz, and American Music Jason Hainsworth

In what ways will SFCM pursue a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in the context of the decision?

“SFCM will continue its signature engagement programs to invest in people and projects that will shape an equitable future at the institution and in the field and will continue to implement curricular changes that embrace a more inclusive canon. 

“Most importantly, DEI is not a workshop, or a training, or a once-a-year conversation. It's a practice. In the same way every musician practices scales daily, we must also practice DEI values daily. When we start to do this, we naturally seek to bring in diverse perspectives, which integrate into–that's right, our daily practice.”

-SFCM Dean Jonas Wright

SFCM encourages students to bring their unique ideas, talents, customs, and experiences to our classrooms and stages. More information about applying can be found at https://sfcm.edu/study/apply/admissions.