by Ray Hayes
In the continuing efforts to rid our nation of former President Obama ‘wrong doings’, President Trump and his administration rescinded 7 policy guidances that once encouraged racial diversity in the college admission process. Although a joint letter, provided by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, did not specifically say that schools should not consider race in admissions, it did say that the former President’s administration issued policies that went beyond the Supreme Court’s affirmative action decision. Both departments concluded that the previous administrations policies were merely ideas and unnecessary.
In a joint letter the Departments stated the following, “The documents advocate specific policies and procedures for educational institutions to adopt, analyze a number of hypotheticals, and draw conclusions about whether the actions in those hypotheticals would violate” citizens’ constitutional rights, the letter states.”
The documents that the Departments are referring to are listed below:
- December 2, 2011 Dear Colleague Letter Regarding the Use of Race by Education Institutions
- 2011 Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Postsecondary Education dated December 2, 2011;
- 2011 Guidance on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity and Avoid Racial Isolation in Elementary and Secondary Schools dated December 2, 2011;
- September 27, 2013 Dear Colleague Letter on the Voluntary Use of Race to Achieve Diversity in Higher Education After Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher I];
- September 27, 2013 Questions and Answers About Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher I];
- May 6, 2014 Dear Colleague Letter on the Supreme Court Ruling in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action; and
- September 30, 2016 Questions and Answers About Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin [Fisher II].
Attorney General Jeff Sessions stated that the guidances were outdated and unnecessary. “In the Trump administration, we are restoring the rule of law. That’s why in November I banned this practice at the Department and we began rescinding guidance documents that were issued improperly or that were simply inconsistent with current law. Today we are rescinding 24 more and continuing to put an end to unnecessary or improper rulemaking.” Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos stated the Supreme Court has already made it very clear which affirmation actions policies are constitutional. (Therefore, in my personal opinion she concludes that these policies created are unconstitutional and unnecessary.)
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) has criticized both Sessions and Department of Education Secretary Betsy Devos by stating that this is another attack on, “the principles of equal access and opportunity.”
Race should not be considered solely based on admissions to a University, character and academic achievements should be considered first and foremost. However, if the University is attempting to change its culture and give underrepresented citizens an opportunity that was not afforded to them previously, then race sometimes has to be considered. President Obama’s administration efforts were simply providing ways for Universities to create a real world environment at their institution.
At the end of the day, I understand what both President Trump and President Obama administrations tried to achieve, however before these guidances are rescinded, other measures should be in place to give everyone an equal opportunity.