The Texas Tech Health Sciences Center announced last week that it will stop considering race in its admissions decisions. While leaders of Asian American Coalition of Education hope that Yale will follow suit, the University does not intend to do so.
According to an April 15 Insider Higher Ed press release, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights forced Texas Tech to stop using race in admissions because the school failed to demonstrate that it was conducting sufficient review of policy to ensure that the use of race in admissions was needed.
In a letter from a Department of Education official to the school, the official explained that the school “did not clearly document … whether its use of race-neutral alternative measures was sufficient standing alone to obtain the educational benefits that flow from student body diversity.”
Though the Texas Tech request was not linked to any ongoing investigations, the Office of Civil Rights is currently investigating both Harvard and Yale for allegedly using admissions policies that discriminate against Asian American applicants. Both universities have long defended a “holistic review” of applicants, which involves considering factors such as the applicant’s racial and socioeconomic background in conjunction with standardized test scores and transcripts.
The leaders of AACE, the group whose complaint prompted the Department of Education’s investigation into Yale, supported Texas Tech’s decision to stop considering race in admissions and said they remain hopeful that Yale will do the same.
“AACE is very pleased to learn that Texas Tech’s Medical School has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to stop using race as a factor in its admission practices,” AACE President Yukong Zhao wrote in an email to the News. “It is a great news for tens of thousands of Asian American applicants, who have been severely discriminated against during medical school admissions process for decades, simply because of their race and ethnicity.”
Zhao added that he thinks this move will be a step to “restore the American Dream” and that the action is appropriately justified by the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which forbids federally funded institutions from engaging in racial discrimination.
AACE co-founder Swan Lee called Texas Tech’s move “a development in the right direction.” She said that the decision will “remind other colleges of this truth: racial and ethnic profiling is wrong, no matter where it is applied.”
“This shall be a wake-up call to our society and especially the bureaucrats: improve education in the real sense,” she said. “Do not let colleges get away with faking diversity through racial and ethnic profiling anymore. It is helping no one, but damaging and compromising everyone’s chance for true self-realization and full exploration of potentiality. It’s drinking poison to quench thirst.”
Zhao said that he is “confident” that the Department of Education will conduct a “thorough” investigation of Yale’s admissions process and will stop it from using “racial discrimination against Asian American applicants in the future.”
But Dean of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid Jeremiah Quinlan told the News that he is “very confident that [Yale’s] practices are lawful.”
“The educational benefits of diversity are very important to us and we will continue to run the admissions process that we have,” he said.
Yale President Peter Salovey deferred requests for comment to Quinlan. Ayaska Fernando, the director of admissions for the Yale School of Medicine, did not respond to a request to comment.
A 2016 Gallup Poll found that seven in 10 Americans thought that “merit” — rather than other qualities like ethnicity or religion — should be the “only basis” for college admission.
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