The previous guidelines issued by the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and the United States Department of Education (DOE) promoted using race as a factor in the college admissions process in order to bolster diversity on college campuses.
A statement from the DOJ described the former guidance document as “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”
“The Supreme Court has determined what affirmative action policies are constitutional, and the court’s written decisions are the best guide for navigating this complex issue,” United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wrote in a separate statement. “Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law.”
The SUNY Board of Trustees stated that the administration’s actions are threatening higher education and “the attacks on diversity will prevent an incalculable number of women, economically disadvantaged citizens, and people of color from being able to pursue the educations they are entitled to.”
President of Stony Brook University, Samuel L Stanley Jr., echoed the sentiments of the SUNY Board Of Trustees in an email sent to students, faculty and staff on July 12.
“At Stony Brook University, we will continue our efforts to implement our broad-based Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity while celebrating the diversity of our students, staff, faculty and patients and building an inclusive community,” Stanley wrote.
In place of the Obama administration’s guidance document, the Trump administration has reverted back to the guidelines put in place under President George W. Bush, which called for “race-neutral” methods for student admission.
The decision from the DOJ and DOE comes just as Harvard University prepares to defend its own admissions policies in court against a group that claims the school is discriminating against Asian American applicants.
Stony Brook University’s Undergraduate Student Government also released a statement on Facebook “unequivocally” opposing the withdrawal of the guidelines.
“We know that ‘race-blind’ or ‘color-blind’ policies do not address the years of systemic oppression or great inequalities faced by our peers of color,” the statement read. “The reversal of these guidelines leaves the opportunity to unfairly give advantages to certain students and discriminate against others.”