The U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday afternoon announced that it is withdrawing a series of Obama-era documents promoting racial diversity in U.S. campuses, according to a statement.
“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. Schools should continue to offer equal opportunities for all students while abiding by the law,” U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in the statement.
The seven documents withdrawn include a Dear Colleague Letter Regarding the Use of Race by Educational Institutions issued on Dec. 2, 2011, among others. The statement said the department has concluded that the documents “advocate policy preferences and positions beyond the requirements of the constitution.” “Moreover, the documents prematurely decide, or appear to decide, whether particular actions violate the constitution or federal law,” the statement said.
The documents, all introduced under the Obama administration, provided guidelines for U.S. schools to take into consideration applicants’ race as a factor based on the assumption that racial diversity benefited the society and created a better learning experience for students. But the policy has become the center of debate after critics argued that selecting students based on race instead of merit is another form of discrimination. Multiple U.S. universities have been involved in legal disputes in which their alleged practice of favoring minority group students was called into question. With the rescission of the documents, the U.S. government effectively encourages U.S. schools to adopt “color blind” admission policies, which may reduce the number of minority racial group students enrolled into prestigious universities.
The reversal in policy was applauded by groups that campaigned for fair admission.”Students for Fair Admissions welcomes policies that will end racial classifications and preferences in college admissions,” this group’s president Edward Blum told Xinhua in a statement. Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a pro-affirmative action group, said the move is “a deliberate attempt to create fear and confusion on the part of school administrators committed to racial diversity on college campuses.”