‘We want to see a color blind and equal environment for everyone,’ nonprofit president said
A right-of-center think tank launched a new initiative to monitor changes in college policies in response to this year’s Supreme Court rulings banning affirmative action in admissions.
The Center for Equal Opportunity announced the creation of its “After Affirmative Action Network” to “monitor compliance with the Supreme Court decisions last term outlawing the use of race in college admissions” in a news release earlier this month.
The Court issued two landmark decisions in June in favor of the plaintiffs in a pair of cases targeting affirmative action policies at the University of North Carolina and Harvard University, The College Fix reported at the time.
Center for Equal Opportunity President and General Counsel Devon Westhill discussed plans for the network in a recent phone call with The Fix.
“We don’t know fully what boundaries the Supreme Court has established.” Westhill said. “We will find out what the boundaries are in future court cases.”
The network will gather information on colleges’ possible continued use of race in admissions, Westhill said, including through an anonymous tip submission form.
Westhill said that research for the new AAA Network will rely on tips from existing connections with faculty, staff, and students and recent college connections.
Westhill said some colleges continue to employ indirect methods to determine the race of student applicants.
He cited Columbia Law’s former requirement of applicants to respond to prompts with “video statements,” as described in a cached page on the school’s website.
Westhill also pointed to college guidelines released by the Biden administration following the Harvard/UNC ruling as another example of indirect efforts to continue affirmative action in admissions.
The White House, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Education all released statements and guidelines encouraging colleges to continue to consider the race of students in applications.
The Department of Education released a report Sept. 28 titled “Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Opportunity In Higher Education.” The strategies it suggested include targeted recruitment programs and considering hardships faced by applicants “including but not limited to racial discrimination”.
“The Biden Administration believes these methods are legitimate, but whether they are legally right is another matter,” Westhill said. “It raises a number of issues, especially with separation of powers, that the Biden Administration would do this after a coequal branch of government made a ruling.”
In conversation with The Fix, Westhill also emphasized that CEO is a non-partisan organization and seeks to work with people on both sides of the political aisle.
“We want to see a color blind and equal environment for everyone,” he said. “It is the right thing as a policy, because it is the right thing legally, and because it is the right thing morally. This is a non partisan issue.”
“We hope that both people who are right of center and people who are left of center would contribute to this issue because it’s the right thing to do and because everyone should be treated equally.”
The Center for Equal Opportunity “invites participation in [its] project from faculty, administrators, students, alumni, and other interested parties across the country who can share information on admissions changes at their schools,” according to the news release. “CEO will provide journalists, lawmakers, litigators, and others access to this information through periodic briefings and by sharing open records request findings and analyses.”
The mission of the center “is to study, develop, and disseminate ideas that promote colorblind equal opportunity and nondiscrimination in America,” according to its website.
“For over 25 years, CEO has advanced its mission by: [c]onducting studies of racial and ethnic preferences in college admissions [and] [c]hallenging public and private institutions that promote racial and sex preferences,” among other actions.
IMAGE: Center for Equal Opportunity