The Trump administration’s call for race-blind college admissions won’t change practices at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.
“UW-Madison's approach is consistent with the law. Any student who is accepted at UW-Madison is here because he or she has the potential to succeed. No one is admitted solely on the basis of race or ethnicity,” Meredith McGlone said.
McGlone said the school “employs a comprehensive, competitive and selective process for undergraduate, graduate and professional schools.”
Taken into account are grades, standardized test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, leadership and written statements, along with consideration of factors like race, ethnicity and being in the first generation of a family to attend college, she said.
The Justice Department on Tuesday rescinded seven Obama-era guidances from the Education Department’s civil rights division, the New York Times reported. An evaluation of whether the guidance exceeded what is allowed by law had been called for in November by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
And the withdrawal of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the Supreme Court makes continued support of the use of race in admissions uncertain if it is challenged again, as Inside Higher Ed concluded in an analysis.
Kennedy was the author of the two most recent, narrowly adopted Supreme Court decisions upholding universities’ right to consider race in admissions, both involving the University of Texas at Austin. While the court has not banned the use of race as a factor in admissions, it has steadily narrowed the way schools can consider race in trying to diversify their student bodies.
A case considered likely to make its way to the Supreme Court was brought by Asian-American students who said Harvard University excluded them to maintain room for students of other races.
“The whole issue of using race in education is being looked at with a new eye in light of the fact that it’s not just white students being discriminated against, but Asians and others as well,” said Roger Clegg, president and general counsel of the conservative Center for Equal Opportunity. “As the demographics of the country change, it becomes more and more problematic.”
The Trump administration action brings government policy back to George W. Bush administration guidance calling for race-neutral admissions policy.