Despite the Trump administration’s reversal of Obama-era policies encouraging schools to use affirmative action to diversify their student bodies, Yale will continue to use race as a factor in admissions.

On Tuesday, the U.S. departments of Justice and Education announced in a joint letter that they would abandon the policy, arguing that the Obama White House overstepped its constitutional authority in issuing the guidelines. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — who less than a year ago rescinded the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter, which made recommendations for all American colleges on how to handle reports of sexual misconduct — said in a statement that the Supreme Court has already ruled on the constitutionality of affirmative action policies, and that its decisions should guide schools’ practices.

In a statement to the News, University spokesman Tom Conroy said Yale’s admissions policies have always been in compliance with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the law.

“Yale seeks to create a vibrant and varied academic community where our students interact with people of different backgrounds and points of view,” Conroy wrote. “Our admissions policies and practices reflect and support this goal.”

In 2011 and 2016, the Obama administration issued legal recommendations for schools considering using race as a factor in admissions.

Though the Trump administration’s decision to rescind those recommendations does not change the law, Yale’s choice to stand by its current policies could mean the loss of federal funding from the Department of Education or an investigation or lawsuit from the Department of Justice. After the Obama administration issued its 2011 Dear Colleague Letter urging schools to adopt a lower standard of proof for cases of sexual misconduct, the Justice Department began investigating whether schools were complying, even though that letter, like Tuesday’s shift in policy by the Trump administration, did not alter the law. The federal government penalized schools that did not adopt the new policies.

The Trump administration is already investigating Yale for discrimination against men. In May, the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights took up a complaint alleging seven of the University’s single-gender programs and scholarships violated Title IX because they exclusively benefit women. The Office dismissed several other complaints against Yale organizations like the Women’s Center and Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies on the grounds that they do not exclude men or are private or non-profit organizations unaffiliated with the University.

Tuesday’s announcement comes amid increasing scrutiny of affirmative action policies. Most notably, Harvard faces a Justice Department investigation and a lawsuit alleging that the school discriminates against Asian-Americans in its admissions practices. The Asian American Coalition for Education also filed a complaint against Yale, which has not been taken up.

In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled against a challenge to affirmative action policies in Fisher v. University of Texas. Justice Anthony Kennedy, the longtime swing vote who penned the majority opinion, announced his intention to retire last month. With a hardline conservative replacement, the court would have the necessary majority to overturn the precedent.

Correction, July 10: The headline has been updated to reflect the fact that the Trump administration did not issue new guidelines. In fact, it rescinded Obama-era guidelines. 

  • CentralJerseyMom

    A student whose paternal grandfather was Hispanic, who speaks no Spanish, and who has exactly the same cultural experiences as all of his non-Hispanic neighbors magically adds “diversity” to a class by virtue of his surname and the fact that Yale can include him as a “Hispanic” when reporting the racial/ethnic makeup of the class. The daughters of Barack Obama would similarly add “diversity” to the class. Meanwhile, the admissions officers at Harvard override the recommendations of their alumni interviewers to report that Asian-American students whom the admissions officers have never met are “unlikeable” lack “courage” and “kindness” and are “not respected” by their peers so that they can keep Asian admission artificially low in order to artificially increase African-American and Hispanic admission. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/15/us/harvard-asian-enrollment-applicants.html Martin Luther King would weep.

  • Nancy Morris

    This article rather badly misconstrues both the Trump administration action and the Yale response. The Trump rescission statements point out that the Obama-era documents that have now been rescinded were inconsistent with controlling Supreme Court precedent, which DOES allow for some use of race in admissions, subject to various restrictions. The Trump DOE/DOJ rescission announcement directs schools to consult the Supreme Court, not the over-reaching and now-rescinded Obama documents, but does not purport to forbid the use of race as allowed by the Court. Merely by continuing to employ race as a factor in admissions, Yale is not “defying” the Trump administration action or the Court. Nobody disputes that the Court’s pronouncements in this area have been vague, confusing and sometimes inconsistent. The Trump announcement encourages schools that are concerned that they not run afoul of federal law not to employ race in their admissions process, as has long been the practice of the public universities in California, for example. Yale has determined it is a risk worth taking, and the Trump actions fully permit that.

    It is true that “After the Obama administration issued its 2011 Dear Colleague Letter … the federal government penalized schools that did not adopt the new policies.” Such behavior was characteristic of the many excesses and disingenuous edicts of the Obama administration, which exhibited a pattern of using Dear Colleague letters, executive orders and many other abusive tactics in highly improper attempts to avoid the requirements of the Administrative Procedure Act, much other federal legislation and even the Constitution. Such behavior has not characterized the Trump administration despite the constant refrains of his critics.

  • Ralphiec88

    There’s some speculation here that’s unhelpful at best. The Trump administration rescinded Obama-era guidelines around race. As the article states, those were guidelines, not law. Yale contends that their practices have always been consistent with US law. So the reporters’ claim that Yale has somehow opened itself up for a loss of federal funding is off base.

    • ShadrachSmith

      No. Obama wrote BS rules to help Universities illegally justify secret admissions processes for purposes of SJW’s hijacking the golden ticket machines under the rubric of AA. Now Trump is undoing that. This is simple stuff.