According to WSJ and other reports, the Trump administration has set its sights on tearing down precedent set by Obama’s Justice and Education Departments. The interdepartmentally-engineered guidelines served as official recommendations for colleges as they navigated the role of race in college admissions.
We reached out to several colleges for comment on the White House's consequential move. Here are their official responses:
Harvard University: University spokeswoman (Assistant Vice President of Communication) Melodie Jackson stated: "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. Harvard is deeply committed to bringing together a diverse campus community where students from all walks of life have the opportunity to learn with and from each other."
She added: "Harvard’s approach to race-conscious admissions has been upheld by the Supreme Court for more than 40 years, first in Justice Powell’s opinion in Bakke, again in Grutter, and most recently in Fisher II."
She goes on to explain, "Harvard is committed to excellence, in all its forms, and to expanding opportunity to educate world-changing citizens and citizen leaders. When evaluating applicants from among the large pool of academically qualified students who seek a place in the freshman class, Harvard—like many of the country’s colleges and universities— considers the whole person, not just an applicant’s grades and test scores. As the Supreme Court has repeatedly recognized, a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions, including on race, transforms the educational experience of students from every background and prepares graduates for an increasingly pluralistic world.
If Harvard stopped taking race into consideration as one factor among many in its admissions process, the result would be a class that fails to achieve the diversity and excellence that Harvard seeks. Harvard has concluded that such a result would severely compromise its ability to achieve the educational benefits that flow from a student body that is diverse across many dimensions, including race.
Harvard devotes tremendous resources to recruitment, and since the 1970s has maintained a dedicated program aimed at the recruitment of racial and ethnic minorities, including Asian Americans."
University of Michigan: Kim Broekhuizen, Associate Director of Public Affairs stated: "We believe the U.S. Supreme Court got it right in 2003 when it affirmed our law school's approach at the time, which allowed consideration of race as one of many factors in the admissions process. We still believe that. But under state law, after Proposition 2, the university is restricted from considering race in admissions decisions.”
Brown University: Brian Clark tells us, "We at Brown will do everything in our power to advocate against changes to laws or policies that would undermine our ability to build a diverse community of outstanding students. The courts have held that colleges and universities may act affirmatively to achieve the educational goals at the core of our academic excellence at Brown. Through our race-conscious admission practices, Brown assembles the diverse range of perspectives and experiences essential for a learning and research community that prepares students to thrive in a complex and changing world. We consider each application individually based on many factors. We remain dedicated to building a well-rounded class of students who can succeed as problem solvers and future leaders in an increasingly diverse society."
As the directive turns toward an official legislative proposal, or executive order, we will provide additional comment and context.