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For many, the stakes could not have been higher when the nine Supreme Court justices met on Halloween to hear oral arguments that could alter the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

Hamilton President David Wippman and former Cornell University colleague Glenn Altschuler traced the history of affirmative action from its roots in the Civil War and Reconstruction to the case currently before the Supreme Court in an article for The Washington Post’s Made By History section. This popular section in the Post provides “historical analyses to situate the events making headlines in their larger historical context.” Altschuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell.

It is hardly the first time Wippman and Altschuler have written about a national issue affecting higher education. Since 2019, the pair has published more than 30 articles and op-eds on topics ranging from Title IX and cancel culture, to tenure and transgender athletes. In addition to The Washington Post, the articles have appeared in The Hill, Inside Higher Education, The New York Times, The Hechinger Report, and History News Network.

College presidents, in particular, are criticized for not using their bully pulpit, a topic Wippman and Altschuler tackled in a July 31, 2022, article for The Hill titled “Speaking up about college presidents speaking out.“We believe [presidents] should [speak out],” they wrote, “but only on issues that have a direct impact on their campus communities and in ways that protect and promote their commitment to critical thinking, active debate, and the pursuit of truth by students, faculty, and staff.”

For Wippman, speaking publicly about issues central to a college’s operations or to higher education in general demonstrates his own commitment to Hamilton’s mission and its call for students to be active citizens.

In their recent Washington Post article, Wippman and Altschuler concluded: “Yet, given the court’s conservative majority, any argument in favor of affirmative action probably won’t prevail — and many Americans fear the demise of a policy that has enriched the learning environment at colleges and universities, promoted economic mobility, and “counter[ed] the effects of societal discrimination.”

Excerpts from prior Wippman-Altschuler op-eds:

  • “Most important, an exclusive focus on monetary rewards ignores the larger purpose and the non-pecuniary benefits of higher education. A good liberal arts education inspires lifelong interests and encourages critical thinking, aesthetic appreciation, and intellectual curiosity.” Should college students follow the money?, The Hill, Sept. 25, 2022

 

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