The Biden administration urged colleges and universities on Monday to continue to racially discriminate in an effort to make their student body diverse, following the Supreme Court’s ruling on affirmative action.
The Supreme Court ruled in June that Harvard University and the University of North Carolina’s use of race-based admissions policies were unconstitutional, halting the practice across higher education institutions. The U.S. Department of Education’s (DOE) Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division released guidance encouraging universities to skirt the decision by weighing “ways a student’s background, including experiences linked to their race, have shaped their lives and the unique contributions they can make to campus.” (RELATED: Biden Official Casts Doubt On Ending Legacy Admissions After SCOTUS Ruling)
“For higher education to be an engine for equal opportunity, upward mobility, and global competitiveness, we need campus communities that reflect the beautiful diversity of our country,” U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement. “The resources issued by the Biden-Harris Administration today will provide college leaders with much-needed clarity on how they can lawfully promote and support diversity, and expand access to educational opportunity for all following the Supreme Court’s disappointing ruling on affirmative action.”
The guidance notes that through the admissions process, schools can consider how applicants’ backgrounds, such as their experiences with racial discrimination or the racial composition of their neighborhoods, can “position them to contribute to campus in unique ways.”
“For example, a university could consider an applicant’s explanation about what it means to him to be the first Black violinist in his city’s youth orchestra or an applicant’s account of overcoming prejudice when she transferred to a rural high school where she was the only student of South Asian descent,” the guidance states.
Institutions are encouraged to partner with K-12 schools to create pathway programs, and may give preferential treatment to students in the program during the admissions process if they were admitted to the program based on non-racial criteria, the guidance states.
Colleges and universities are able to target programs and areas in an effort to recruit students to contribute to a diverse student body, the guidance states. The guidance explains that schools can reach out directly to schools that predominately serve students of color and those by limited financial means in an effort to recruit applicants.
“By ensuring that the group of applicants they ultimately consider for admission includes a robust pool of talented students from underrepresented groups, institutions better position themselves to attain the student body diversity and related educational benefits they seek,” the guidance states.
The guidance also encourages universities to create race-affiliated groups, such as clubs or activities, to encourage students to “celebrate their shared identities, interests, and experiences.” If clubs, seminars or activities have a race-related theme, it must be open to all regardless of race, the guidance states.
“We stand ready to support institutions that recognize that such diversity is core to their commitment to excellence, and that pursue lawful steps to promote diversity and full inclusion,” the guidance states.
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