Affirmative Action Admission Policies Dumped by Trump Admin

How important is a racially diverse student body at universities? Not important at all… to Donald Trump’s administration, anyway. The Department of Education is eliminating and updating policy guidelines to discourage colleges from using race as a factor when assessing student applicants.

Back in 2011, Barack Obama’s team created guidelines that encouraged schools to seek out a diverse student population. The document very specifically stipulated that race shouldn’t be the main or even a leading reason for an admission decision, but it could be considered as part of a larger picture to ensure a racially diverse student body.

“Institutions are not required to implement race-neutral approaches if, in their judgment, the approaches would be unworkable… to achieve the diversity the institution seeks,” read the Obama-era policy. That’s a far cry from the “Schools should exclude white people in favor of people of color!” that conservatives have interpreted the policy to mean.

Prior to the Obama guidelines, the George W. Bush administration had actively discouraged schools from engaging in affirmative action, although it did support alternatives like plans to implement “economic diversity,” which indirectly improved the enrollment of students of color.

Since the announcement, schools like Harvard have released statements saying it will continue to consider race, in part, in admissions decisions, with the support of the Supreme Court.

Indeed, the Supreme Court has previously and repeatedly upheld the right of colleges to use race as a factor when accepting students – with some limitations. However, with Justice Anthony Kennedy’s impending retirement, the court’s likely ideological switch could result in a different decision on this issue if and when it’s relitigated.

In an ideal world, the admissions process could be every bit the race-neutral process that conservatives are calling for. Alas, American society is not a race-neutral place, with the Trump administration itself serving as a prime example of how racism persists.

Keep in mind that:

When students of all races are given equal opportunities to achieve, then we can talk about doing away with affirmative action. Until then, these allowances are meant to help level the playing field.

Vox makes an important point: most American college students attend schools where pretty much every applicant is accepted, meaning that race isn’t weighed in the admissions process. It’s the highly selective schools with small student bodies where allowing affirmative action matters, but again, so the vast majority of college students aren’t even slightly affected by these policies in the first place.

Furthermore, it’s not as if the existing policy has even fixed racial inequality at elite schools. Black and Latino students are still very underrepresented, not just in comparison to the overall population, but compared to less competitive colleges. Whatever talking points you’ve heard about “quotas” is nonsense, since colleges are falling short by a lot.

Surely, the Department of Education already knows that from the data. The change in policy isn’t about righting a wrong, it’s about creating a soapbox to insist that white people are being discriminated against, while actually disadvantaged people of color have another potential lifeline yanked away from them.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

47 comments

Dan Blossfeld
Dan Blossfeld3 months ago

It is about time that we eliminate this program, which has outlived its usefulness.

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Hannah K
Hannah K3 months ago

tyfs

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Dr. Jan H
Dr. Jan Hill4 months ago

thanks for the info.

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Shirley Plowman
Shirley P4 months ago

NOW WHAT?

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Margaret Goodman
Margaret Goodman4 months ago

Without affirmative action, the elite institutions most likely would be over 70 % Asian and over half female. Affirmative action helps Caucasian males.

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Shelley w
Shelley w4 months ago

Affirmative action is reverse discrimination. It is time to move forward without favoring people based on their race, color, religion, gender but rather on their merit.

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Emma Z
Past Member 4 months ago

Wrong again, Donald.

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John W
John W4 months ago

Thanks

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Lesa D
Lesa D4 months ago

another example of trump's hatefulness...

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Lesa D
Lesa D4 months ago

thank you Kevin...

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