Jeff Sessions revokes Obama-era guidance to promote diversity at colleges

Jeff Sessions revokes Obama-era guidance to promote diversity at colleges

Having Obama guidelines on the books that support the use of race to diversify campuses when the Trump administration feels differently would be awkward, he said.

The Obama approach replaced Bush-era policy from a decade earlier that discouraged affirmative action and instead encouraged the use of race-neutral alternatives, like percentage plans and economic diversity programs. "The Obama guidance [on affirmative-action policies] pushed schools to engage in race-based decision-making, which is unfair as a matter of policy and inconsistent with what the Supreme Court has said".

But conservatives argue that these rulings could unfairly harm white and Asian college applicants.

Anurima Bargava, who was in charge of civil rights enforcement in schools at the Justice Department under Obama, told the newspaper that the Trump administration's move appears to be politically motivated.

A justice department spokesperson told The New York Times that the follows a study ordered by attorney general Jeff Sessions of past policies that he believed went against the constitution and law.

Though such guidance doesn't have the force of law, schools could presumably use it to defend themselves against lawsuits over admission policies.

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Students for Fair Admissions, a nonprofit opposed to affirmative action, said in a study that Harvard routinely assigns lower scores to Asian students in subjective rating categories meant to measure attributes such as likability, courage and kindness, putting them at a major disadvantage compared with white students.

"This is a triumphant moment for Asian American communities", the AACE said, adding this timely update signifies a culmination of much-needed government actions to revamp misguided policies that facilitated widespread abuses of race-based affirmative action in higher education.

The case is likely to go to trial this fall and may ultimately be decided years from now by the US Supreme Court.

Vanita Gupta, who led the Justice Department's civil rights division under Democratic President Barack Obama, criticized the decision.

Eight states already prohibit the use of information on race in public college admissions: Arizona, California, Florida, Michigan, Nebraska, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Washington.

"In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law", Mr. Sessions said.

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When an institution is taking an individual student's race into account in an admissions or selection process, it should conduct an individualized, holistic review of all applicants.

Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement also threatens the practice of affirmative action.

The 2011 guidance sought to help school districts thread the needle when using race or other factors in enrollment policies.

Rachel Kleinman, senior counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, said withdrawing the guidance could deter districts from implementing policies to increase diversity.

"They've obviously been looking at the case for nearly a year now", Clegg said. But she said it will have no impact on laws that govern school integration and admissions, nor will it affect the hundreds of schools under desegregation orders.

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