Trump Administration Seeks to Dismantle Affirmative Action in Postsecondary Education

By Rosa García

In its continuing efforts to undermine and dismantle the Obama Administration’s policies promoting racial equity and inclusion in higher education, the Trump Administration rescinded guidance on affirmative action and diversity in schools. By eliminating the consideration of race in college admissions, Trump is closing another door of opportunity to countless students of color.

Supreme Court of the United States has already ruled on the question of race-conscious admissions. In 2016, the Supreme Court’s 4-3 ruling on Fisher v. Texas upheld the constitutionality of the University of Texas at Austin’s holistic college admissions process. It also made clear that race-conscious admissions practices were permissible and lawful under the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

Rescinding the Obama’s Administration guidance is the wrong message to send to students of color and to institutions of higher education, especially at a time when the face of public school and postsecondary students is becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. Today, more than half of the nation’s public school prekindergarten to 12th grade students and more than 40 percent of postsecondary students are students of color. Given these changing demographics, the federal government should be encouraging selective public and private institutions to do more to admit greater numbers of low-income, first-generation college students of color, not less. The Trump Administration’s desire to retreat to an era of exclusion and discrimination in higher education is unacceptable and would set us back decades.

Affirmative action has unquestionably expanded educational opportunity to students of color at selective public and private institutions. Affirmation action also strengthens the nation’s economy, workforce, and democracy, while preparing all students to become global citizens. It is worth noting that both students of color and white students benefit greatly from the diversity of experiences and the rich, global perspectives their classmates bring to the classroom. Institutions of higher education can and should promote healthy campus climates where all students can thrive, feel a sense of belonging and empowerment, and succeed.

The Center for Law and Social Policy urges campus leaders to recognize the changing face of public school and postsecondary students, disregard President Trump’s efforts to roll back affirmative action, and continue their steadfast commitment to promoting racial equity and inclusion in higher education. Our nation’s future depends on it.