Affirmative Action Cases May Force Colleges to Rethink EverythingBreaking News
tags: higher education, affirmative action, admissions, colleges and universities
In 1964, hoping to erase its image as a privileged cloister for white rich families, Wesleyan University contacted 400 Black high school students from around the country to persuade them to apply.
The outreach led to the enrollment of what became known as Wesleyan’s “vanguard” class — one Latino and 13 Black students — which helped establish the university’s commitment to diversity.
Nearly 60 years later, such recruitment practices face an existential threat.
In cases against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, the Supreme Court is widely expected to overturn or roll back affirmative action in college admissions. Many education experts say that such a decision could not only lead to changes in who is admitted, but also jeopardize long-established strategies that colleges have used to build diverse classes, including programs that are intended to reach specific racial and ethnic groups for scholarships, honors programs and recruitment.
Those rollbacks could then help spur colleges to end other admissions practices that critics say have historically benefited the well-heeled. Some schools have already ended their standardized test requirements and preferences for children of alumni. There is also pressure to end early decision, which admits applicants before the general deadline.
College officials warn that there is no way of knowing how sweeping the court decision will be. But the ruling, expected by June, is likely to have a broad impact on a range of schools, according to Vern Granger, the director of admissions at the University of Connecticut.
“Most people are thinking about the admissions process at selective institutions,” he said, “but I would say that this decision is going to be far-ranging and it’s going to be expansive.”
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