Trump administration announces intention to sue universities with affirmative action plans

Wednesday, August 2, 2017 - 8:07pm

On Monday, The New York Times broke the news that the Justice Department may focus some of its efforts on investigating and potentially suing universities for their use of affirmative action in college admissions; millions were left wondering what the repercussions of these measures would mean for such policies which seek to level the playing field for discriminated individuals.

Some speculate that the Trump administration’s plan to look into intentional race-based discrimination at colleges and universities actually indicates a push to stand against racially diversifying college campuses.

According to University of Michigan spokeswoman Kim Broekhuizen, the University will continue to be on the lookout for developments on the subject.

“As always, the University follows all applicable state and federal laws,” Broekhuizen wrote in an email.

Affirmative action policies have long been a source of debate in the state of Michigan. In November 2006, Michigan voted for Proposal 2 — a measure that banned public institutions from discriminating or giving preferential treatment to students based on identity traits, such as race, ethnicity, gender and national origin, among others. In 2014, the matter was taken to the U.S. Supreme Court where it was ruled that the proposal did not violate the U.S. Constitution.

Student and faculty reactions to the restriction of affirmative action at the University have been mounting; this past winter semester, 950 maize and blue chairs were placed in an eye-catching arrangement on the Diag to represent the students from minority backgrounds who wouldn’t attend the University due to Proposal 2.

Postdoctoral fellow Austin McCoy studies racial justice. In a message, he said the proposed investigation contradicts the reality of race in admissions. 

"The DOJ's proposal to investigate colleges' and universities' affirmative action policies are based in a faulty assumption that race conscious forms of redress have a disparate impact on white Americans as a group," he wrote. "This faulty assumption belies the fact, at least in the context of UM before the passage of Propsal 2, that white students tend to enjoy a higher rate of acceptance and admission despite race-based affirmative action policies."