The Justice Department is dropping a lawsuit accusing Yale University of discriminating against Asian and white applicants. From a legal/policy perspective, this move today is one we should approve of and applaud. In addition, we must consider how we might move forward on this larger issue.
The trumped-up race issue, when this made headlines under the last administration, struck me as a frivolous side note to a larger way to not only view this matter, but perhaps better deal with what we all desire. That being, greater diversity on campuses nationwide.
It serves our national needs to have more inclusion into higher education from a greater cross-section of the potential students. So if that is the end we desire how about removing “my parents went here” and “my family gave the school lots of money” in the consideration for acceptance. As a consequence, diversity will shoot and up and issues of genuine inequality will be addressed.
The move today by the JOJ is a reversal from the stance the department took under the Trump administration, which repeatedly challenged the issue of race in admissions. The lawsuit filed against Yale in October accused the Ivy League university of favoring certain applicants based on race, rather than using other means to achieve diversity in its student population.
The move by the previous administration was nothing more than an attack on a perceived ‘elite’ institution of higher learning. The Trump White House knew very well that the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that colleges receiving federal assistance may consider applicants’ race in limited circumstances. One of the most notable rulings was their 4-3 decision where the Court upheld the University of Texas’ affirmative action program.
“The race-conscious admissions program in use at the time of petitioner’s application is lawful under the Equal Protection Clause,” the court held.
Yale used that formula along with a number of other factors that allowed a student to be accepted at the school. But under the Trump DOJ, while they acknowledged those considerations by a college or university were legal, then tried to claim Yale used those allowances more than in the prescribed ways. It was nothing more than just another effort for conservatives to kick higher education, and what was viewed by the Trump team as an ‘elite’ institution.
There was a zeal in the Trump administration to set a legal precedent that would end the use of race-conscious admissions at Yale, and as a direct result, all such peer institutions. This was also a president, mind you, who accused schools of teaching students “hateful lies about this country” and said he would be taking steps to “restore patriotic education”. And then for extra measure, he continued his opposition to efforts to raise awareness about racial inequalities.
Trump was so easy to read as to his racial motives.
The slams Trump’s DOJ made against Yale are now part of the overall racial animus he used during the four years in the Oval Office. It will take time to adjust and correct much of what happened in that term, but President Biden is doing just that, as evidenced by the current DOJ decision.
And so it goes.