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June 30, 2023 

☀️ Mostly sunny, with a high near 83.

Good Morning Boston,

Leave early today if you're traveling for the Fourth of July weekend; AAA spokesperson Mary Maguire says this afternoon will be a "very, very busy" time on the roads — with record vacation traffic starting as soon as late morning. So, we'll try to make this quick.

  • In the wake of yesterday's Supreme Court decision striking down affirmative action, Massachusetts elected officials and college leaders were quick to reaffirm their commitment to promoting diversity in higher education. But how? As WBUR's Max Larkin reported this week, colleges do have a few other options — some of which they're already using.
    • Targeted recruitment: It's more resource-intensive, but many local colleges say it's worth it to travel to and recruit from historically underrepresented communities. For example, Wellesley College admissions staff travel across the country to stage mini-college fairs and themed presentations in both urban and rural areas. In the wake of yesterday's ruling, UMass Amherst also expressed confidence that their local recruitment efforts would still be able to produce a diverse student body.
    • End legacy admissions: Many colleges, like Harvard, give preference to applicants with at least one parent who is an alum — a practice that favors affluent, white students. But some schools, like Amherst College, have recently dropped the policy. In fact, Colorado bans legacy admissions. (Massachusetts House Majority Leader Mike Moran and state Sen. Lydia Edwards recently introduced legislation to do the same in the Bay State.)
    • Drop the test: A growing wave of universities, including Harvard, have — at least temporarily — stopped requiring SAT or ACT scores from applicants, amid criticism the tests favor wealthier families. Research also suggests ditching SAT and ACT requirements can lead to a more diverse student population.
    • Yes, but: Public colleges in California — one of the nine states where affirmative action is currently banned — have already shifted to some of those more "race-neutral" ways of pursuing diversity, but haven't seen the number of Black and Hispanic college students return to their pre-ban levels.
    • One key point: Yesterday's ruling did note that colleges can still consider “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.” Some college officials say that wording gives schools a lot of latitude on individual admissions decisions. "[Applicants] should feel free to describe their life experience in whatever fullness they believe is appropriate," College of the Holy Cross President Vincent Rougeau told Larkin. "And my guess would be that for many of them, their experiences of being Black in American society, of being a Latino will become a relevant part of their story."
  • Next on the docket: We're not done with SCOTUS rulings yet. The court is slated to announce its decision this morning on President Joe Biden's plan to cancel $10,000 to $20,000 in student loan debt for many borrowers. And as NPR's Nina Totenberg reported in February, the conservative court's two primary swing votes — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh — seemed skeptical during oral arguments that the plan was within Biden's legal authority.
    • More than 800,000 — or one in nine — Bay Staters are eligible for relief under Biden's plan. If you're one of them and have thoughts on the court's ruling, don't hesitate to get in touch. Just reply to this email or email WBUR's Carry Jung at
  • Heads up, Somervillians: The MBTA is shutting down the Green Line Extension's one-stop leg to Union Square for six straight weeks this summer. The diversion will run from July 18 to August 28 for what the T calls "critical repair work by MassDOT on the Squire Bridge."
  • We have a deal: Unionized casino workers at Encore Boston Harbor will vote today to ratify a new contract with Wynn Resorts, after the two sides reached a tentative agreement to avoid a strike. It would have otherwise begun at midnight tonight.
    • Union leaders seem pretty pleased with the deal, which they say includes "five-star wages, excellent benefits and job security."

P.S.— Gov. Maura Healey went overseas this week for the first time since her inauguration. Where did she go? Test your knowledge of the stories we covered this week and take our Boston News Quiz.

Nik DeCosta-Klipa
Editor, Newsletters

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The Rundown

Wet weather, but not a washout for the Fourth
Weekends in Boston have been very wet lately, and our unsettled pattern continues into the Fourth of July holiday. But don’t cancel your outdoor plans just yet. Read more.
A big, new Provincetown home for a nonprofit that provides LGBTQ+ youth a safe haven
Summer of Sass will be able to provide employment opportunities and subsidized housing for four times the amount of people thanks to a donor who gave the nonprofit a $3.7 million Victorian house. "This program will never die at this point,” founder Kristen Becker said. Read more.
The Supreme Court rules against USPS in Sunday work case
The court ruled in favor of an evangelical Christian Postal Service carrier who refused to work on Sundays for religious reasons. Read more.
Ex-Roman Catholic cardinal is not competent to stand trial in Massachusetts sex abuse case, expert says
A prosecution expert says a former Roman Catholic cardinal is not competent to stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a teenage boy in Massachusetts decades ago. The opinion raises doubts about the future of the criminal case against 92-year-old Theodore McCarrick. Read more.
Boston Children's will acquire Franciscan Children's in move to increase mental health care
Boston Children’s, the biggest health care provider in the region, plans to spend more than $500 million to upgrade facilities and construct a new building at the Franciscan campus in Brighton. Read more.

Anything Else?

  • Scientists have found signs of a new kind of gravitational wave — and they don't really know what's creating them. (It could be dark matter, black holes or something else.) Here's why the discovery is so big.
  • Theater critic Jacquinn Sinclair writes the Tony-winning "The Lehman Trilogy" — now running at the Huntington Theatre Company main-stage through July 23 — is a thrilling and provocative story about American capitalism. But Sinclair came away with the conclusion that the play doesn't delve deep enough into issues of enslavement.
  • Kaivan Shroff says he'll never forget the time at Brown University when a group of relatively privileged classmates debated the benefits of SNAP, only to be interrupted by a Native American student who shared her lived experience with the program. While imperfect, affirmative action made us better, Shroff writes in this commentary.

What We're Reading 📚

This section is supported by Beacon Hill Books, a new independent bookstore.

  • The Night 17 Million Precious Military Records Went Up in Smoke (Wired)
  • At UMass, a scholarship pledge doesn’t pan out and an athlete feels betrayed (The Boston Globe)

Tell Me Something Good

Rehabilitated sea turtles, Gnocchi and Bucatini, released on Cape Cod beach (CAI)
Last winter, the critically endangered Kemp’s ridley sea turtles were found near-death on local beaches. They spent seven months at the New England Aquarium’s Sea Turtle Hospital undergoing treatment for pneumonia, dehydration, and trauma. Read more.

Listen: The Common breaks down the new driver's license law and the impact it will have on the lives of drivers across the state.

Play: WBUR's daily mini crossword. Can you keep your streak going?

Before you go: Massachusetts scudnado, confirmed.

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