Trump Works to Limit Diversity in College Admissions

Trump Works to Limit Diversity in College Admissions

Trump Works to Limit Diversity in College Admissions

Harvard says its admissions policies comply with USA laws and that it has worked to boost financial aid to ensure economic, as well as racial, diversity in its classes.

That guidance has now been rescinded, as have about a half-dozen similar documents, including some that sought to explain court rulings affirming the use of race as a factor in admissions decisions.

Trump administration officials argue that those recommendations are misleading, making it seem as if it's easier to achieve a legal form of affirmative action than it actually is.

"We condemn the Department of Education's politically motivated attack on affirmative action and deliberate attempt to discourage colleges and universities from pursuing racial diversity at our nation's colleges and universities", said Kristen Clarke, president and executive director of the group. This was consistent with Supreme Court precedent that has permitted affirmative action but narrowly limited its use.

The US Supreme Court ruled in 2016 that universities may use affirmative action to help minority applicants get into college.

In total, Sessions announced the rescission of 24 guidance documents, nearly all from the Obama era, which advised on issues such as national origin discrimination, the rights of refugees to work and the detention of juveniles in adult jail facilities. For them to take down this guidance right now, at a time when we see far too many incidents of racial violence and deepening tensions, is not the way that the federal government should support colleges and universities that are trying to do this kind of work.

In addition to those guidances, the Justice Department pulled 17 other policy directives it deemed "unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper".

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"Harvard will continue to vigorously defend its right, and that of all colleges and universities, to consider race as one factor among many in college admissions, which has been upheld by the Supreme Court for more than 40 years", said Melodie Jackson, a spokeswoman for the university. "It is more evidence that the Trump administration is skeptical about race-based decision-making in admissions and in other contexts".

Civil rights groups criticized the Trump administration's announcement, saying it went against decades of court precedent permitting colleges to take race into account.

This will switch the country back to a policy instituted by the administration of president George W Bush to educational institutions to strongly adhere to race-neutral standards.

Still, the rescinding of the Obama guidelines could have a chilling effect on some universities as they consider the makeup of incoming freshman classes, advocates of affirmative action said.

The high court has been generally accepting of considering race in admissions decisions to achieve diversity.

None of the three directives have any legal bearing on what colleges and universities may or may not choose to do with regards to affirmative action in admissions. With Trump expected to announce his nominee next week, the issue should be a central part of any confirmation process, said Howard University School of Law Dean Danielle Holley-Walker.

"This is not a change in the law, this is not congressional action or a ruling from the Supreme Court", he said.

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