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The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

Emerson College’s only independent, student-run newspaper since 1947

The Berkeley Beacon

SGA discusses affirmative action ban, impact on Emerson admissions

Emerson+College+to+integrate+AI+into+classrooms
Kellyn Taylor

The Supreme Court outlawed affirmative action in June 2023, making it illegal for colleges and universities around the U.S. to use race as a determining factor for applicants during the admissions process, reversing 45 years of legal precedent. 

At the weekly SGA meeting on Friday, Justin Sharifipour, interim vice president of enrollment management and dean of admissions at Emerson, explained the implications of this ruling in the upcoming admissions cycle.

 “There’s been a lot of miscommunication and misinformation about this topic,” Sharifipour said. “This wasn’t the end of all forms of affirmative action, and this doesn’t impose any type of ban on our institution’s goal for a diverse community.”

Sharifipour explained that Emerson will still be prompting applicants for their race to gather data, but admissions counselors—the decision makers in the process—will not have access to this information.

While it’s still early in this new admissions cycle, Sharifipour noted that the percentage of Emerson’s applicant pool that are BIPOC students has increased by 2 percent since the last admissions cycle. 

It is encouraging that Emerson still has “forward momentum” in reaching its goals for a more diverse and inclusive community, he said, and that this initiative has not been “negated” by the recent Supreme Court decision. 

Angus Abercrombie, the Boston intercollegiate government representative, asked Sharifipour to specify what concrete actions the school was taking to ensure these goals were met.

“It’s important to say that these goals are not numerical,” Sharifipour responded. 

He explained that because of the new ruling, Emerson has focused their efforts on recruiting through community outreach programs, partnering with organizations like Artists For Humanity and the Metropolitan Council for Educational Opportunity (METCO) to make sure that Emerson is “on the radar” for students of color. 

Sharifipour also mentioned the long-standing partnership between Emerson and community colleges like Miami Dade. 

He noted that it is important for Emerson to “look at diversity from multiple angles,” especially “from an economic perspective, not just race and ethnicity.”

Emerson is looking to expand its relationships with community colleges around the U.S. to provide opportunities for lower-income students. The college already offers programs like the “Next Step Emerson” scholarship, which only applies to students who “earn an associate’s degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.2 from a community college.”

SGA President Charlize Silverstrino, who is an international student from Australia, asked whether the affirmative action ruling will impact international admissions. 

Sharifipour explained that this only applies to U.S. students.  

“It’s very narrowly construed to just the race and ethnicity of U.S. students,” he said. 

 The reversal of affirmative action isn’t the only way in which the admissions process is rapidly changing throughout the country. For example, many institutions are moving away from mandating standardized testing scores. At Emerson, Sharifipour said, 74 percent of applicants in the last admissions cycle did not submit an SAT or ACT score. 

“If you really love taking the SATs and filling out scantrons, that’s great,” he said. “What you do on a random Saturday morning isn’t a reflection of who you are as a student.”

The Common App has also introduced a new program called “Common App Direct” that allows students to input a self-reported GPA and receive direct admission to colleges around the country. 

According to the Common App website, the program will allow “over 200,000 first-generation and low and middle-income students” to receive proactive admissions offers. 

“You are getting direct admissions offers from schools you have never heard of,” Sharifipour said. 

He added that the idea is to “open doors” for historically disadvantaged students, giving them more opportunities from a broad range of institutions around the U.S.

Because of Emerson’s unique programs that heavily rely on artistic and creative ability rather than on GPA, Common App Direct will be more difficult to implement at the school. 

“We are not a participant yet,” Sharifipour said. “I have a colleague at the Common App who said that they aren’t ready for a school like us.”

However, he said that Emerson will still consider implementing this program in the future. 

“We are talking about it potentially for the year after, but for this current cycle, we are not participating,” he said.

The last major change that Sharifipour identified was the modifications to the FAFSA for next year due to the FAFSA Simplification Act. 

“If you are applying for federal financial aid, we will be doing a blitz over the next few weeks and months about what the changes are,” he said.  

Informational flyers will be handed out in the coming weeks outlining these changes for federal financial aid. 

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About the Contributor
Jack Burns, Staff Writer
Jack Burns (he/him) is a junior journalism major at Emerson. He is currently a staff writer for the Beacon. Aside from the Beacon, Jack is a member of the men’s lacrosse team at Emerson and enjoys taking pictures of the city in his free time.

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