Yesterday, a federal judge upheld the principles of affirmative action when she ruled that UNC-Chapel Hill can continue to use race as a factor in considering admissions and that doing so is not unconstitutional or discriminatory.
The ruling comes down in a lawsuit brought by the conservative group Students for Fair Admissions, backed by conservative legal strategist Edward Blum, alleging that white and Asian students faced discrimination in the university’s admissions process.
U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs found that race “is not a defining feature” in the university’s admissions—true, as only 8.7 percent of UNC-CH students are Black and 8.7 percent are Hispanic, compared to 57.1 percent who are white and 11.3 percent Asian—and that the university had made efforts to consider “race-neutral” admission strategies.
UNC uses a “highly individualized, holistic admissions program” and considers many different factors in admitting students, Biggs wrote.
Per a report from the Washington Post:
“Race is so interwoven in every aspect of the lived experience of minority students,” Biggs wrote in her ruling. “To ignore it, reduce its importance and measure it only by statistical models as [Students for Fair Admissions] has done, misses important context.”
Beth Keith, an associate vice chancellor at UNC-Chapel Hill, said in a statement that “this decision makes clear the University’s holistic admissions approach is lawful. We evaluate each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to a vibrant campus community where students from all backgrounds can excel and thrive.”
Students for Fair Admissions told other outlets it planned to appeal the judge’s ruling.
Still, Biggs, who was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina by President Barack Obama, said UNC-Chapel Hill is “far from creating the diverse environment it says it is pursuing.”
“The evidence shows that, as a whole, underrepresented minorities are admitted at lower rates than their white and Asian American counterparts,” Biggs wrote.
Biggs also noted that minority students at UNC are “confronted with racial epithets, as well as feeling isolated, ostracized, stereotyped and viewed as tokens,” and that, as a whole, “underrepresented minorities are admitted at lower rates than their white and Asian American counterparts, and those with the highest grades and SAT scores are denied twice as often as their white and Asian American peers.”
Despite Biggs’ well-reasoned ruling, this case seems destined to end up in the U.S. Supreme Court; it’s just a matter of time.
Read the entire ruling below.
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