October 05, 2023

Representatives Bush, Cleaver Call on UM System to Restore Race-Based Scholarships and Emphasize Recruitment of Underserved Communities


Washington, DC (Oct. 5, 2023) — Today, Representatives Cori Bush (MO-01) and Emanuel Cleaver, II (MO-05) called on the University of Missouri System (UM System) to reverse their recent decisions following the Supreme Court’s disastrous ruling undermining affirmative action in June. In a letter to Dr. Mun Y. Choi, President of the UM System, the lawmakers specifically called on the President to restore race-based scholarships, consider the experience of race in admissions, and emphasize recruitment to underserved communities—all of which are still allowable under the Supreme Court’s Students for Fair Admission Inc (SFFA) v. Harvard and v. University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill decision.

We believe that a rushed decision to exclude race-based criteria would endanger the futures of Black and Brown students in Missouri who will bear the brunt of decades of discrimination and unequal access to higher education,” the lawmakers wrote. “As duly elected Members of Congress representing over 1.5 million Missourians, we implore you to restore race-based scholarships, consider the experience of race in admissions, and emphasize recruitment to underserved communities. 

The lawmakers continued: “The Court severely limited the ability of higher education institutions to consider an applicant’s race alone. However, the opinion does not prohibit universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affects their lives. The University of Missouri System can and should consider the ways that a student’s lived experience would benefit their contributions to campus and how it can impact their ability to access higher education in the first place. Again, the Court did not restrict the use of race-based scholarships or financial aid. When we lose talented applicants and graduates, we risk driving residents out of Missouri and into other areas that can provide more stable opportunities.”


A copy of this letter can be found HERE.


The Missouri Representatives requested a response to several pressing questions about the UM System’s decision-making and policies moving forward, including:

  1. How is the UM System accounting for centuries of racial segregation and discrimination in higher education?

  2. Why did the UM System decide to eliminate race-based scholarships when the Supreme Court decision made no mention of scholarship considerations?

  3. Will admissions and/or scholarship awards based on legacy status be eliminated as well?

  4. What other lived experiences will the UM System consider instead of race when evaluating student’s applications?

  5. How will the System expand its recruitment efforts to underrepresented student populations?

  6. How will the UM System invest in the success of its students of color so that their graduation rates can match those of their white counterparts?


Congresswoman Bush released a statement in June after the Supreme Court’s decision ending affirmative action in higher education.