Dept. of Justice to Review Affirmative Action in College Admissions

The Trump Administration is preparing staff in the US Department of Justice to review standards and practices associated with affirmative action consideration in college admissions, an initiative which is unclear on how it will be implemented and how it may impact historically black institutions.

The New York Times broke the story with details from an internal memo, calling for departmental appointees to oversee the review of admissions policies at institutions, a process that many believe seeks to maintain admissions equity for white students and college applicants.

No details were provided on which schools, or school types, would be specifically targeted.

The story comes just over a year after the Supreme Court narrowly upheld race-based admissions consideration at the University of Texas, which allows for race to be a factor among other elements of offering enrollment as an effort to promote student body diversity.

Potential benefits exist for HBCUs if the Department of Justice or the US Department of Education offer offers guidance for admissions standards. Threats of litigation, costly reporting requirements or federal funding reductions could compel predominantly white Ivy League and large state institutions schools to reduce the number of minority entrants, which could bolster enrollment at highly selective HBCUs like Howard University and Spelman College, and large public HBCUs like North Carolina A&T and Florida A&M.

But several in the higher education sector are wary of the lack of details. In May, the Trump Administration released a statement detailing its perspective on federal spending oversight, which listed a federal HBCU funding program as an initiative which could be targeted for elimination under constitutional prohibitions against racial discrimination.

The administration walked back the details of the release, but its language remains in the official document.

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