Obama administration backs use of race in college admissions

The use of affirmative action has divided Americans since the 1970s. In college admissions, supporters have used such policies to give opportunities to qualified minority students to help them overcome the effects of long-term discrimination. Opponents have contended that affirmative action is really reverse discrimination. The Obama administration has supported the use of race to help improve diversity.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan speaks in Washington. The Obama administration told colleges and universities this week they can continue to use admissions to increase diversity.

In the wake of a recent Supreme Court ruling that narrowed but did not do away with affirmative action in college admissions, the Obama administration has reaffirmed its commitment to using race as a factor in college admissions to help increase campus diversity.

In a letter to college and university presidents, the departments of Education and Justice reminded educators that the Supreme Court in June ruled that race could still be used as a factor in admissions, as long as the race-based policies were necessary to achieve diversity.

In its 7-1 decision in Fisher vs. University of Texas, the court held that race could be used if “no workable race-neutral alternatives would produce the educational benefits of diversity.”

Civil rights advocates and many university officials were relieved that the high court continued to allow race to be used in considering admissions, while opponents argued that there was still enough ground for further suits to challenge such policies.


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