Trump administration plans to rescind policies that encourage affirmative action in college admissions
- The Trump administration is planning to rescind Obama-era 2011 and 2016 guidance documents encouraging the use of race in college admissions to promote diversity on campus, the Wall Street Journal is reporting.
- Administration officials will argue that the guidelines reach beyond the Supreme Court precedent and oversimplify what is allowed under the law.
- The U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing claims from Asian-American students who believe they were unfairly discriminated against in Harvard University's admissions practices. A similar complaint was dismissed last year by the Obama administration.
Demographics projections show that Hispanic and Asian-American population growth will outpace all other groups in this country through 2045. There is expected to be a continued increase in the number of American-born Hispanic students, and increasing Asian immigration to the U.S. is expected to propel a population increase.
Regardless of Trump administration policies that may be looking to stifle this growth, administrators at most institutions are having to take note of the changing populations, and the diversifying pool of students from which to recruit to meet enrollment goals. Recently, in a conversation about the need to focus on diversity and civility on campus stemming from the Council of Independent Colleges' Diversity and Civility Institute,Gerardo Ochoa, Linfield College assistant dean for Diversity and Community Partnerships, said he was made acutely aware of "the need to really focus on Asian-American students as well as Latino students" and making them feel welcome and included as they start to comprise greater percentages of the campus population.
However, studies show that even with affirmative action guidelines, black and Hispanic students are less represented on campuses than they were 35 years ago, so the policies have not been effectual spurs of change in access. Even if race were to be dropped from admissions forms to create more holistic admissions considerations, factors like zip code still give identifying information that could be used to determine one's likely racial, ethnic or socioeconomic status.
Additionally, leaders still have to look internally at their practices and the barriers, known and unknown, they may be creating for students of color. Standardized tests, like the SAT/ACT, not only come with a known cultural bias, they can also be an additional cost barrier to entry for low-income students. And while many leaders will acknowledge the climate in higher education as a whole is hostile, few are introspective enough to recognize their campus climates may not be as welcoming to students of color as they should be.
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