American Association for Affirmative Action Commends the Obama Administration for Supporting Equal Opportunity and Diversity

American Association for Affirmative Action Commends the Obama Administration for Supporting Equal Opportunity and Diversity in Education Programs

Association of Equal Opportunity Professionals Applauds the Departments of Education and Justice for Issuing Guidance that Supports Educational Opportunities for All Students

For Immediate Release
December 5, 2011

Shirley J. Wilcher, Executive Director
202-349-9855; 240-893-9475

Washington, DC, December 5, 2011 – The American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), an organization of more than one thousand equal opportunity, affirmative action and diversity professionals and institutions highly commends the Obama Administration for issuing guidance that recognizes the “benefits that flow from achieving a diverse student body.” Citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2003 decisions in Gratz and Grutter v. Bollinger the US Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint guidance document that explains what colleges and universities can lawfully do to promote a diverse student body. In so doing, the Obama Administration has stated unequivocally that educational institutions can voluntarily consider race among other factors to promote student body diversity.

“What the Departments of Education and Justice have done is to correctly interpret the Supreme Court’s decisions and to allay any concerns that colleges and universities may have had that their efforts to achieve a diverse student body were inconsistent with the law,” said AAAA President Gregory T. Chambers. “The Administration rightly acknowledged that programs to promote access, equity and diversity benefit all students and assist those who have been historically disadvantaged to compete in the global marketplace,” Chambers added.

OCR and Justice acknowledged the legal necessity of seeking race-neutral alternatives unless they are unworkable and of using a holistic and individual assessment of the student, with race as one of many factors. Institutions can also use socio-economic status, geography, a history of hardships, or percentage plans as in the State of Texas, as additional considerations. What is significant is that the Administration has encouraged recruitment to broaden the pool of qualified applicants, partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUS) and “feeder schools” that are identifiable based on their demographics. This expands upon the range of schools that selective colleges and universities may currently use in their admissions considerations; schools that heretofore (e.g. college prep schools) may have benefited only students who were economically or racially advantaged.

Founded in 1974, the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA) is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of affirmative action, equal opportunity, and diversity. We assist our members to be more successful and productive in their careers. We also promote understanding and advocacy of affirmative action to enhance access, equity and diversity in employment, economic and educational opportunities.

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