ANALYSIS: Universities likely to seek alternative solutions – News Block

by Lawrence Wilson

The admissions process at many American colleges and universities may be drastically altered after the June 29 Supreme Court ruling striking down the practice of broadly applying racial considerations in the selection of incoming students.

The 6-3 ruling in Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College ends the longstanding practice of considering the race of students when granting admission.

The full implications of the 237-page decision are still unclear, legal experts say. But the ruling will, at a minimum, force higher education institutions to find alternatives to achieve the goal of creating a diverse student body.

The ruling applied to two separate cases: one against Harvard, a private institution; and the other against the University of North Carolina, a public school.

The plaintiffs alleged that both universities discriminated against white and Asian applicants by giving preferential consideration to black, Hispanic, and Native American students. As proof, the plaintiffs pointed to data showing that among black and Asian students who had nearly identical GPAs and test scores, black students were admitted at a much higher rate.

The schools acknowledged that their admissions policies used race as a consideration in an effort to create a diverse learning environment.

Based on previous court decisions, race could be considered as one factor among others in college admissions in order to create a diverse learning environment, which was seen as a compelling interest for learning institutions.

Students walk across the campus of the University of California-Berkeley, in a file photo. (David A Litman/Shutterstock)

The court held that the policies of the two institutions failed to meet those tests, but “engaged in stereotyping,” legal analyst Laura Jarrett said in an NBC television interview.

The decision will not affect fall 2023 admissions, according to Nicolas Creel, an assistant professor of business law at Georgia College & State University, because those determinations have already been made.

“This decision will, at most, prevent universities from using race as a consideration for upcoming 2024 admissions, since we are past the point where we could possibly retroactively adjust admissions for our incoming freshman classes,” Creel said. to The Epoch Times.

However, schools that want to maintain something like their current admissions policies and racial balance will likely find solutions to achieve the goal, experts say.

Economic preference

“One option that we might see adopted in some states would be to encourage universities to develop a system where people of lower socioeconomic status have a higher chance of admission,” Creel said.

“While a program like this would be race-blind, the net effect would be racially unbalanced in the sense that it would help students of color much more than white students,” he said, given that minorities are overrepresented at the highest levels. low. end of the economic spectrum.

“A program like this would almost certainly survive a constitutional challenge where discrimination based on socioeconomic status need only pass a very low level of judicial scrutiny,” Creel said.

admit, deny

Many colleges and universities accept far more students than they enroll. Often the financial aid package offered to a student is the deciding factor in enrollment. And that provides a second chance to shape the racial makeup of the student body.

“The biggest impact this will have will be on the most selective colleges having to artificially limit the admission of Asian-American students,” Danilo Umali, founder of Game Theory College Planners, told The Epoch Times.

“They can play ball by admitting more Asian-American students, but they severely limit the amount of aid they give out, so the price of college is out of their reach. That’s a pattern we’ve seen in the past if a university is looking to ‘admit/reject’ a group of students,” Umali said. “Universities have used this methodology to admit students they have no intention of allowing on campus.”

The level of support for minority applicants may also be a factor in their decision to apply, some experts say. Since many minority students have comparatively little family support and may be first-generation college students, colleges that want more such students often provide on-campus support, such as programs to ease the transition to college life, counseling o Assistance in applying for work-study programs or financial aid.

legacy policies

Critics of affirmative action have pointed out that economic discrimination is widely accepted in college admissions.

Reacting to the decision on Twitter, Michelle Obama wrote that students are often given preferential admissions status if their parents are alumni of the school or can afford additional tutoring or standardized test-taking training. Others have pointed out that the ability of parents to make financial contributions to the school is often a factor in the admissions process.

“Too often, we simply accept that money, power and privilege are perfectly justifiable forms of affirmative action, while kids growing up like me are expected to compete when the playing field is not level,” Obama wrote.

US. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, who received his law degree from Harvard Law School, had previously noted that one reason for siding with the plaintiffs might be that the defendants had not tried to achieve racial balance by adjusting for those factors.

US Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch poses for an official portrait at the Supreme Court Building on Oct. 7, 2022. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“Justice Gorsuch focused a lot on oral arguments, essentially saying, ‘If diversity is really your genuine goal, Harvard, why don’t you get rid of the legacy?'” Jarrett said, referring to the practice of favoring children of former students. .

“Why don’t they get rid of all standardized tests? … If you want to eliminate all of that and then come to us and say, ‘We still can’t achieve the racial makeup we want,’ that would be one thing. But you haven’t even tried,” Jarrett said, paraphrasing Gorsuch’s argument.

It is not clear whether institutions would alter such practices given that alumni contributions are a major source of revenue for colleges and universities.

Continued Emphasis on Diversity

Regardless of the Supreme Court ruling, many colleges and universities are likely to continue their efforts to maintain a diverse student population. A wide mix of students facilitates peer-to-peer learning and can help students shape their own thinking on important issues, experts say.

Harvard issued a statement on the ruling saying it would comply but upholds the value of creating a diverse learning environment.

“We write today to reaffirm the fundamental tenet that deep and transformative teaching, learning, and inquiry depend on a community made up of people of many backgrounds, perspectives, and lived experiences. That principle is as true and important today as it was yesterday. So are the enduring values ​​that have enabled us, and all great educational institutions, to pursue the high calling of educating creative thinkers and bold leaders, of deepening human knowledge, and of promoting progress, justice, and human flourishing. ”, the June 29 statement said.

States that have already banned affirmative action are California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Idaho. Washington instituted a ban, but repealed it in 2022.

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