The Departments of Justice and Education on Dec. 2 released a new guidance document detailing the flexibility that the Supreme Court has provided to colleges and universities to promote diversity on campus.
The guidance, based on three Supreme Court decisions, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, describes how race can be taken into account in admissions, pipeline programs, recruitment, and support programs such as mentoring and tutoring as efforts to achieve diversity.
“University administrators have been confused about how they could follow the court’s rulings and still achieve the benefits of diversity,” Ada Meloy, general counsel for the ACE, told The New York Times. “So they will welcome this practical, step-by-step set of directions.”
Previous guidance issued by the Bush administration in 2008 was withdrawn. The Times article briefly compares the Obama and Bush guidance and concludes, “Even in addressing the same principles, the framework is practically reversed.”
The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed and The Wall Street Journal all point out that the guidance comes as the Supreme Court is being urged to weigh in on the University of Texas at Austin’s affirmative action program, which has been upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
“If the Supreme Court accepts the case for review, and that could happen by early in 2012, these issues will be front and center nationally—in legal, political and educational circles,” said Inside Higher Ed.
To read the full guidance, see the Education Department’s website.