Law & Courts

Colleges Get Help On Admissions Rulings

By Sean Cavanagh — February 11, 2004 2 min read

The legalese that infiltrated the lexicon of academia last year with a pair of far-reaching U.S. Supreme Court decisions (think “critical mass,” “individualized consideration,” and “compelling interest”) should act as the starting point for college and university leaders in rewriting campus mission statements and admissions policies, a new guidebook suggests.

A manual written by two former civil rights lawyers for the U.S. Department of Education offers advice to the nation’s higher education institutions on how to craft admissions plans that comply with the Supreme Court rulings last year involving the University of Michigan. The court allowed the use of race as a factor in admissions but struck down a system of awarding bonus points to minority applicants. (“Justices Give K-12 Go-Ahead to Promote Diversity,” July 9, 2003.)

Download “Diversity in Higher Education: A Strategic Planning and Policy Manual Regarding Federal Law in Admissions, Financial Aid, and Outreach,” from the College Board. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) The College Board also maintains a page of the latest news concerning diversity in education.

The manual, “Diversity in Higher Education: A Strategic Planning and Policy Manual Regarding Federal Law in Admissions, Financial Aid, and Outreach,” draws from the language of the court’s June 2003 rulings in offering advice to campus leaders and policymakers. It was published by the College Board, the nonprofit, New York City-based organization that sponsors the SAT college- admissions test.

To comply with the rulings, colleges should be prepared to show in mission statements and admissions policies that diversity is not an end in itself, but rather a way of bringing direct educational benefits to their schools, according to authors Arthur L. Coleman and Scott R. Palmer. The benefits could include improved learning and teaching, better relationships between students of different backgrounds, and better preparation for careers working in an increasingly diverse society.

Colleges should also consider taking other steps, the lawyers advise, including: considering race-neutral alternatives in admissions, and if they do not make them part of their policy, explaining why; judging all applicants according to the same criteria; defining “diversity” in a way that refers to more than just race or ethnicity; and promoting efforts to support diversity on campus in ways other than through mission statements and admissions policies.

The authors cautioned, however, that their advice is not necessarily lawsuit-proof.

“Little here is about absolutes,” Mr. Palmer said in Washington on Feb. 4, at a discussion on the guidebook. “A lot of this is about trying to balance legal risks.”

Events

Jobs The EdWeek Top School Jobs Virtual Career Fair
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Mathematics Webinar
Engaging Young Students to Accelerate Math Learning
Join learning scientists and inspiring district leaders, for a timely panel discussion addressing a school district’s approach to doubling and tripling Math gains during Covid. What started as a goal to address learning gaps in
Content provided by Age of Learning & Digital Promise, Harlingen CISD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How to Power Your Curriculum With Digital Books
Register for this can’t miss session looking at best practices for utilizing digital books to support their curriculum.
Content provided by OverDrive

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Law & Courts Puerto Rico’s Former Education Secretary Pleads Guilty to Fraud Conspiracy
Julia Keleher pleaded guilty to federal fraud conspiracy charges, striking a felony plea bargain and potentially avoiding maximum jail time.
Syra Ortiz-Blanes, The Miami Herald
4 min read
In this Oct. 13, 2017 file photo, Education Secretary Julia Keleher gets a hug from a student at Ramon Marin Sola Elementary School, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
In this Oct. 13, 2017 photo, Education Secretary Julia Keleher hugs a student at Ramon Marín Sola Elementary School, in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico. The former education secretary pleaded guilty to two federal fraud conspiracy charges for crimes committed during her time as Puerto Rico’s top education official.
Carlos Giusti/AP
Law & Courts High Court Declines to Hear Ex-Principal's Race-Bias Case Over Transfer to Central Office
The justices also refuse to take up a case challenging the requirement that men, but not women, register for the military draft.
4 min read
In this Nov. 4, 2020 photo, the Supreme Court in Washington.
In this Nov. 4, 2020 photo, the Supreme Court in Washington.
J. Scott Applewhite/AP
Law & Courts 11-Year-Old Challenges West Virginia Law Barring Transgender Girls From Female Sports
The lawsuit argues that the measure targets transgender females in violation of the equal-protection clause and Title IX.
4 min read
Image of a gavel.
Marilyn Nieves/E+
Law & Courts Court Restores Officers' Immunity Over Seizure of High School Athletes in Peeping Probe
A federal appeals court ruled in the case of two campus officers involved in detaining football camp participants for hours of questioning.
4 min read
Image of cellphones.
RyanJLane/iStock/Getty