On Tuesday, 3 July, 2018, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a letter announcing the rescission of a number of guidelines related to race-conscious admission practices for colleges and universities. This change is in direct opposition to the core values of ACPA-College Student Educators International related to human dignity, inclusion, and equity, and also to our efforts related to assisting campuses and professionals in recognizing our roles in the ongoing efforts for racial justice. First established under President Kennedy in 1961 and dramatically influencing access to higher education for decades since, Affirmative Action, and similar race-conscious practices, impacts admissions by promoting equal access and offsetting systematic discrimination for traditionally minoritized communities. While many universities have a long way to go before their admissions decisions can be considered equitable, the previous Affirmative Action guidelines have provided an important incentive for universities and colleges in the United States in recruiting, retaining, and investing in students from underrepresented backgrounds.
Even as the federal government issues the recent reversals, the U.S. Supreme Court continues to receive and review Affirmative Action cases. With the current U.S. administration’s proposal to roll back a number of Affirmative Action guidelines, we must persist towards a future for students that is equitable, accessible, and just. Any state or federal legislation that seeks to disincentive Affirmative Action measures for institutions of higher education will only serve to perpetuate the urgent and pervasive equity crises on college and university campuses throughout the United States. Diversity is a crucial factor in campus climate, and the inclusion of students, faculty, and staff from all backgrounds must be a priority to higher education officials.
With our colleague associations across higher education, ACPA will continue to monitor and call out these issues affecting our members in living up to our role and opportunity to provide resources, education, and advocacy. We applaud those institutions that have already and will continue to be committed to maintaining Affirmative Action policies and principles in their admissions practices.
Additional resources available on this issue:
- National Conference of State Legislatures: Affirmative Action Resources
- ACPA: Strategic Imperative on Racial Justice and Decolonization
- Department of Education: Advancing Diversity and Inclusion in Higher Education
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