State Watch

Judge rules University of North Carolina can continue race-based admission policy

Kevin Guskiewicz twitter

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) can continue its race-based admission policy for its undergraduate programs, a judge ruled on Monday.

Judge Loretta C. Biggs also found that the university did not discriminate against white and Asian American applicants and that the university uses “a race conscious admissions program to enhance student diversity.”

“While no student can or should be admitted to this University, or any other, based solely on race, because race is so interwoven in every aspect of the lived experience of minority students, to ignore it, reduce its importance and measure it only by statistical models as SFFA has done, misses important context to include obscuring racial barriers and obstacles that have been faced, overcome and are yet to be overcome,” Biggs ruled.
Biggs added in the 161-page ruling that the university policies “do not provide for the evaluation of candidates in separate admissions processes according to their race.”

This case follows a 2014 lawsuit against UNC by the anti-affirmative action group Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), who claim that UNC unfairly prioritizes Black and Hispanic students over white and Asian American students when considering applications.

In the lawsuit, the group accused UNC of “employing racial preferences in undergraduate admissions where there are available race-neutral alternatives capable of achieving student body diversity,” and “employing an undergraduate admissions policy that uses race as a factor in admissions.” 
Thousands of rejected applicants, prospective students and parents are part of the group that wants race and ethnicity to not be a factor in the college admissions process.
“This decision makes clear the University’s holistic admissions approach is lawful. We evaluate each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to a vibrant campus community where students from all backgrounds can excel and thrive,” Beth Keith, associate vice chancellor, Office of University Communications, said in a statement to Reuters.

Edward Blum, the president of SFFA, said in a statement, “Students for Fair Admissions is disappointed that the court has upheld UNC’s discriminatory admissions policies. We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed UNC’s systematic discrimination against non-minority applicants.”

“SFFA will appeal this decision to the Fourth Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court,” Blum added.

The group currently has filed similar cases against Harvard and the University of Texas. 

While the courts have ruled in favor of the universities in both cases, the lawsuit against Harvard could end up in the Supreme Court.

In 2016, the Supreme Court decision upheld the right for universities to use race-conscious reasoning in their admissions policies.

Tags Affirmative action college admissions Education race-based admissions Students for Fair Admissions

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