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Trump Administration Will Investigate Affirmative Action in College Admissions, Report Says

The U.S. Department of Justice is preparing to investigate race-based admissions practices at colleges and universities, according to an internal document obtained by The New York Times.

Little is known beyond the document, first reported on by the Times. According to the newspaper, the document, sent to the department’s civil-rights division, seeks lawyers who want to participate in “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

The development appears to indicate that the Trump administration intends to target colleges that use affirmative action in the admissions process. Race-based admissions was the subject of higher education’s most prominent legal battle of the last decade, Fisher v. University of Texas. In that case, Abigail Fisher, a white woman who was denied admission to the University of Texas at Austin, sued the university over its admissions policy, saying it unfairly discriminated against her. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the university’s favor last summer.

The Times reported that the department’s new effort is likely to be run out of its front office, which is staffed by political appointees, rather than the part of the department staffed by career officials. President Trump gave only one major speech on higher ed during the presidential campaign, and affirmative action was not among the topics he discussed.

Read the Times’s report.

See a Chronicle article with further coverage of the report and what higher-education experts are saying about it.

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