The de facto racial segregation pervasive at colleges and universities across the country undermines a necessary precondition for the diversity benefits embraced by the Court in Grutter — the requirement that students partake in high-quality interracial interactions and social relationships with one another. This disjuncture between Grutter’s vision of universities as sites of robust cross-racial exchange and the reality of racial separation should be of great concern, not just because of its potential constitutional implications for affirmative action but also because it reifies racial hierarchy and reinforces inequality. Drawing from an extensive body of social science research, this article explains that the failure of schools to achieve greater racial integration in campus life perpetuates harmful racial biases and exacerbates racial disparities in social capital, to the disadvantage of black Americans. After providing an overview of de facto racial segregation at America’s colleges and making clear its considerable long-term costs, this article calls for universities to modify certain institutional policies, practices, and arrangements that facilitate and sustain racial separation on campus. To this end, this article concludes by proposing several specific reforms that would enable universities to more fully obtain the potential social and educational benefits made possible by student body diversity.

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