Colleges urged ‘to get creative in improving racial diversity’

by Grace

For some time now colleges have had the goal of building diverse student bodies, but have been somewhat hampered by guidelines prohibiting use of race as a “decisive factor’ in admissions.  Now, with new guidelines issued by the Obama administration, colleges (and K-12 public schools) have been urged to get creative in improving racial diversity.

Like the former Bush administration guidance, the new documents advise schools to use race-neutral policies if possible. If those prove insufficient, however, the new guidance states that a school “may consider a student’s race as a ‘plus factor’ (among other, nonracial considerations) to achieve its compelling interests” in diversity.

The documents pay little attention to the thrust of a widely noted 2007 plurality opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts in a 5-4 Supreme Court decision invalidating integration programs adopted by school boards in Louisville, Ky., and Seattle.

The chief justice took a highly skeptical view of race-conscious enrollment policies, even those intended for benign purposes such as promoting diversity. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race,” he wrote.

Racial quotas are back on the table.

The contrast with the Bush guidelines interpreting the same three cases is stark. Where the Bush administration’s letter in 2008 states, “Quotas are impermissible,” the 2011 version says “an institution may permissibly aim to achieve a critical mass of underrepresented students.” Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.

Bush guidelines: “Before using race, there must be a serious good faith consideration of workable race-neutral alternatives.”

Obama guidelines: “Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable.”

More minorities will gain admittance to college.

Ada Meloy, general counsel for the American Council on Education, which represents 1,800 universities and colleges, predicted that educators would immediately begin to pursue ways to draw more racial minorities, as the new guidelines would ease fears of legal challenge.

This news might serve as a reminder to consider using strategic race selection for college admissions.

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One Comment to “Colleges urged ‘to get creative in improving racial diversity’”

  1. I didn’t see that article, but I’ve heard of this trend. It’s probably what I would do if I were in that situation. Although well intentioned, these policies create so much angst and injustice for what seems to be so little benefit.

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