New Guide Aims to Help Colleges Keep Diversity Efforts Within the Law
WASHINGTONThe College Board recently released an important new resource to help colleges and universities who are grappling with the issues of recruiting and admitting a diverse student body in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the University of Michigan cases. Specifically, the new guide is designed to help administrators and policy-makers craft educationally and legally sound policies as they pursue their mission-driven diversity-related goals. The guide was released during a special briefing at the College Board’s Washington office, an event that also featured commentary from several distinguished representatives of leading institutions of higher education who discussed the impact of the Michigan decisions and the use of the new guide with respect to admissions, financial aid, and outreach programs and practices. “The Supreme Court in the Michigan cases reaffirmed what most of us believe, that the educational benefits of diversity are real and substantial and worth pursuing vigorously,” said Gaston Caperton, president of the College Board. “This new guide is one important part of the College Board’s effort to help our member colleges understand and cope with the practical consequences of the recent court cases. We are working to improve educational opportunities for all students in legally sound ways. That is what this effort is all about.”The new guide, Diversity in Higher Education: A Strategic Planning and Policy Manual Regarding Federal Law in Admissions, Financial Aid, and Outreach, 2nd Edition, by Arthur L. Coleman and Scott R. Palmer, is a plain-language, common-sense tool for institutional and programmatic self-assessment. It is designed to untangle and translate legalisms and court jargon and help colleges assess and minimize their risk of running afoul of the U.S. Constitution and federal civil rights laws. The authors, who are former U.S. Department of Education civil rights officials, acknowledged that while the recent University of Michigan cases settled major legal questions — for example, reaffirming principles from the Bakke decision regarding the educational benefits of diversity. They have not silenced the debate about affirmative action. Nor, according to the authors, have the Supreme Court decisions answered all the critical questions facing colleges and universities in admissions, financial aid, and outreach. The new guide is intended to inform institutional decision-making in each of these areas.
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