Rescission of Affirmative Action Guidelines Won’t Change Emory Admission Process

Emory’s admissions process will remain the same, despite the Trump administration’s rescission of Obama-era policies that encouraged colleges to consider students’ races to foster diversity in admissions.

“The information we have seen would not lead to a change in Emory’s admission process, our national, and even worldwide, search for the most talented students, nor a change to our approach to selection, which assesses a broad range of student characteristics and takes a holistic approach to applications for admission,” a July 3 University statement to the Wheel said.

The 24 guidelines that the administration rescinded on Tuesday were created in 2014 under former President Barack Obama to increase diversity at universities by encouraging institutions to consider race as a factor in admissions. The departments of Education and Justice said the Obama-era guidance documents went beyond existing laws in its letter announcing the changes.

Colleges that maintain race-conscious admissions policies could potentially find themselves in a federal investigation or lawsuit or have their funding from the Education Department cut, according to The New York Times.

“Emory University and Emory Healthcare are committed to affirmative action and fair employment,” the University’s website reads. “We believe that difference and excellence go hand in hand in our workplaces, classrooms, hospitals, clinics and research facilities.”

Nationwide, Democrats, education and civil rights groups decried the the administration’s actions.

“All students, and not just our students of color, benefit from diverse and inclusive classrooms,” National Education Association President President Lily Eskelsen García said in a Tuesday statement.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) accused Trump of pursuing a “discriminatory agenda.”

“The Administration’s rollback of vital affirmative action guidance offends our nation’s values and promise of opportunity for all,” Pelosi said in a statement. “It is yet another clear Trump Administration attack on communities of color and the principle that every student deserves a high-quality education that allows them to thrive.”

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in a 4-3 decision that affirmative action policies are permitted but left some interpretation for future decisions. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion for that case that universities must scrutinize fairness of admissions programs, assess changing demographics and identify positive and negative effects of affirmative-action measures.

The controversial rescission comes amid the debate over the value and fairness of affirmative action, as well as a high-profile Justice Department investigation into whether Harvard University (Mass.) illegally discriminated against Asian-American applicants. Harvard has maintained that their practices are consistent with previous U.S. Supreme Court rulings.

A lawsuit filed by Students for Fair Admissions in 2014 alleges that Harvard unfairly rejected Asian-American applicants. The case is expected to go to trial in October, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Students for Fair Admissions has alleged that Harvard issued high scores of academic performance to Asian-Americans but unfair and biased low scores in the “personal qualities” category.

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