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Trump administration set to eliminate Obama guidelines on using race in college admissions

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President Donald Trump's administration plans to roll back guidelines set by the Obama administration on race in college admissions. The guidelines that will be eliminated called for colleges to seek ways to promote racial diversity without being discriminatory in their admissions. (Saul Loeb /Getty Images)

The Trump administration plans to rescind some of the guidelines set by the Obama administration regarding the use of race in college admissions, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The change will focus on guidance documents published in 2011 and 2016 that drew from Supreme Court decisions that set precedent on the use of affirmative action, which the Trump administration will reportedly argue go beyond precedent and are misleading.

What will change?

The guidelines that will be eliminated called for colleges to seek ways to promote racial diversity without being discriminatory in their admissions. Here is an excerpt from the 2011 guidance on race in admissions:

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. That is, the institution should evaluate each applicant's qualifications in a way that does not insulate any student, based on his or her race, from comparison to all other applicants. An institution may assign different weights to different diversity factors based on their importance to the program. ... But race cannot be given so much weight that applicants are defined primarily by their race and are largely accepted or rejected on that basis.

In summary, the guidelines give institutions options on how to promote racial diversity without specifically targeting and isolating race as a primary factor in the admissions decision.

Examples of how to accomplish that goal include targeted recruiting or the use of socioeconomic or other demographic identifiers to draw students from different racial backgrounds.

Why are they doing this?

The Department of Justice is currently investigating Harvard's use of race in admissions; specifically, whether the school is holding Asian-American students to a higher standard.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Trump administration believes the Obama-era guidelines "go beyond Supreme Court precedent on the issue and mislead schools to believe that legal forms of affirmative action are simpler to achieve than what the law allows."

While the Supreme Court has affirmed the practice of affirmative action more than once, the issue could be revisited if Trump's Supreme Court nominee views the practice differently than his predecessor, Justice Anthony Kennedy.

A lawsuit against Harvard over the alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans is working its way through the courts now.

(H/T: The Hill)

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