by Casey Harper (The Center Square)

The US Department of Education urged colleges and universities to continue promoting racial diversity on campus, despite the US Supreme Court’s recent decision to invalidate previous affirmative action admissions frameworks.

“The resources released today by the Biden-Harris administration will provide college leaders with much-needed clarity on how they can legally promote and support diversity, and all in the wake of the Supreme Court’s disappointing decision on affirmative action can expand access to educational opportunity for Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said. “This is only the first step and our administration will continue to work to ensure that we prepare students of all backgrounds and income levels to lead our multiracial democracy together.”

US Supreme Court Government In June it said that the common practice of considering race as a factor in university admissions was illegal.

The court ruled in two separate cases that the race-based affirmative action admissions policies of Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

Those policies had become commonplace at colleges and universities, and the court’s ruling left those institutions grappling with how admissions should take place.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in his opinion that this “should not be construed as prohibiting universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, whether through discrimination, motivation or otherwise.” be from.”

“But, notwithstanding the dissent’s claim to the contrary, universities cannot simply by application essays or other means establish the rule that we today hold to be illegal,” he said.

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The Biden administration released new information for institutions navigating admissions in the wake of the decision, urging schools to keep race as a focus in admissions.

Attorney General Merrick B. “Ensuring access to higher education for students of diverse backgrounds is one of the most powerful tools we can use to prepare graduates to lead an increasingly diverse nation and to create opportunities for all,” said Garland. make the promise come true.” “These resources provide universities with the information they need to determine what valid tools are available to them to promote diversity in higher education.”

The “resources” in question offer advice to higher education institutions on how to promote racial diversity in admissions.

As described in the attached Q&A document, schools can consider the ways a student’s background, including experiences of their race, have shaped their lives and unique contributions they can make to campus, DOE said.

From DOE document:

For example, a university might consider an applicant’s explanation of what it meant to him to be the first black violinist in his town’s youth orchestra or an applicant’s description of overcoming prejudice when he attended a rural high school. transferred where she was the only student from the South. Asian origin. Similarly, an institution might also consider a guidance counselor or other recommender’s description of how an applicant overcame her feelings of isolation as a Latina student at a overwhelmingly white high school in order to join the debate team. of. Similarly, an institution might consider an applicant’s discussion of how learning to cook traditional Hmong dishes from her grandmother fueled her passion for food and nurtured her sense of self by connecting her to past generations of her family.

The DOE also recommends recruiting students from areas with high levels of minority inclusion.

“For institutions of higher education, this could mean doubling efforts to recruit and retain talented students from disadvantaged communities, including large numbers of students of color,” the DOE document states.

Critics said pressure from the Biden administration could violate the court’s decision.

“In Students for Fair Admissions, the Court held that discrimination cannot be done directly or indirectly,” Giancarlo Canaparo, a legal scholar at the Heritage Foundation, told The Center Square. “So, if schools are using ‘identity’, ‘lived experience’ or even zip code as proxies for race, that is illegal. The Court allowed schools to consider whether personal experiences such as overcoming discrimination created personal qualities, but made it clear that schools could not use such things to discriminate slyly.

How the DOE advised schools and what some people say about the court ruling sometimes seem contradictory, possibly giving an explanation of how race may or may not be considered in admissions. And the legal battle is starting.

“Specifically, nothing in the SFFA decision prevents institutions from continuing to process admissions and graduation of diverse student bodies based on race and ethnicity through means that do not prioritize individual applicants based on race in admissions Are. decision,” the DOE said.

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Biden has also worked to provide student loan forgiveness despite the Supreme Court ruling overturning Comprehensive cancellation of $10,000 per borrower and $20,000 per Pell Grant recipient.

The Department of Education announced in July that $39 billion in federal student loans for about 800,000 borrowers would be “freed up” by changing the calculation of monthly payments under income-driven repayment plans.

On Tuesday, a court rejected a legal challenge to that effort by conservative groups.

Republican presidential primary candidate Vivek Ramaswamy wrote on Twitter, “Biden’s student loan forgiveness disaster is effectively a regressive tax disguised as a progressive policy.” “Hardly more than 1/3 of Americans get a 4-year degree, yet Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan forces every citizen to pay for anti-American gender-studies majors. It’s a scam.”

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