Leaked document shows Justice Department to go after college affirmative action programs | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Leaked document shows Justice Department to go after college affirmative action programs

Posted By on Wed, Aug 2, 2017 at 10:54 AM

click to enlarge U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions - WIKIMEDIA / CBP PHOTO BY GLENN FAWCETT
  • Wikimedia / CBP Photo by Glenn Fawcett
  • U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions
With Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the helm, the U.S. Department of Justice is going to go after universities over "admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants," according to an internal department document obtained by the New York Times and published today.

The memo to the Justice Department's civil rights division seeks attorneys interested in  “investigations and possible litigation" against schools whose affirmative action policies the department deems discriminatory.

The University of Arkansas does not believe it will be a target for the investigation, Suzanne McCray, vice provost for enrollment and the dean of admissions at the UA, said.

"We will not be one of the people sued," she said. "Our policies do not discriminate."

The most recent data shows that fewer than 5 percent of students at the UA are African American. But more than 20 percent of the incoming freshman will be from diverse communities, McCray said.

"Our admission policy is race-blind, gender-blind, income-blind," she said, and has not changed in the nine years she has been at the university.

The Arkansas Times wrote in 2012 about what the end of affirmative action could mean for the UA and society at large.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year in Fisher v. University of Texas that the University of Texas could use race as a factor in its admissions policies, but said not all affirmative action policies would pass muster.

Roger Clegg, the president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, said the Fisher decision was disappointing at the time. But the New York Times reported that Clegg, "a former top official in the civil rights division during the Reagan administration and the first Bush administration ... called the project a 'welcome' and 'long overdue' development as the United States becomes increasingly multiracial." He said that Asians as well as whites are being discriminated against.

The Times also quoted Kristin Clark of the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law as calling the project “misaligned with the division’s longstanding priorities. She noted that the civil rights division was 'created and launched to deal with the unique problem of discrimination faced by our nation’s most oppressed minority groups,' performing work that often no one else has the resources or expertise to do."

The UA's McCray said that diversity is always an "important educational tool" for which a university should strive.

"Every university wishes to build a campus that is diverse," she said, "and anything that slows an ability to have a vibrant and diverse campus should be looked at very carefully."

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