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BC to Continue Using Race in Admissions, Discounting Trump Administration

Following the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama-era policies encouraging schools to use affirmative action to diversity their student bodies, Boston College says it will continue to use race as a factor in admissions.

“Boston College will continue to practice affirmative action in accordance with recent Supreme Court decisions involving the University of Michigan (2003) and University of Texas (2016),” John Mahoney, dean of undergraduate admission and financial aid, wrote in an email to The Heights. “As affirmed in those decisions, race is one of many factors which may be used in a holistic application review process.”

On July 3, the Trump administration rescinded seven Obama-era policy guidelines with regard to affirmative action. A joint letter written by the Education and Justice Departments laid out the current administration’s argument that the guidelines overstepped the boundaries for the executive branch’s constitutional power.

The move echoes that other institutions such as Yale University and Harvard University who will also continue to take race into account in the admissions process.

Harvard is currently involved in a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Asian Americans in its admissions process, which is expected to go to trial in Oct. 2018. While some experts called this policy change a political move, others believe that it will not leave a substantial impact on the legal battle.

According to the New York Times, the Trump administration reposted a Bush administration affirmative action document online that had previously been withdrawn in the wake of newer policies.

“The Department of Education strongly encourages the use of race-neutral methods for assigning students to elementary and secondary schools,” the document reads.

One working paper published by sociologists Daniel Hirschman of Brown University and Ellen Berry of the University of Toronto found that the proportion of schools considering race in admissions has declined in recent years. In 1994, they found, about 60 percent of selective colleges—schools that reject at least 15 percent of their applicants—publicly stated that they considered race in their admissions process. By 2014, that number was down to the 35 percent.

Economists Stacy Dale and Alan Krueger, however, have shown that attending a prestigious school is especially beneficial for minorities and first-generation students, possibly because it helps them develop professional networks their families lack. While affluent white students could rely on their families and friends for help in the job hunt, black, Hispanic, and lower-income alums may have needed the connections provided on the most elite campuses.

Featured Image by Katie Genirs / Heights Editor

Correction, July 17, 10:46 a.m.: A previous version of this article stated that the University of Michigan takes race into account in its admissions process. Under Michigan state law, the University of Michigan is restricted from considering race in admissions decisions.

July 12, 2018