Thursday, August 3, 2017

American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity Denounces Reported Efforts by the Department of Justice to Investigate Affirmative Action Programs at Colleges and Universities 
Association of Equal Opportunity and Diversity Professionals finds that the Department's reported anti-affirmative action efforts, if true, would be "unconscionable" 
Washington, DC, August 3, 2017- The American Association for Access, Equity and Diversity (AAAED), an organization of equal opportunity, diversity and affirmative action professionals, announced its opposition to the reported plans of the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate colleges and universities seeking to diversify their student bodies.  
Founded in 1974 as the American Association for Affirmative Action (AAAA), AAAED is a national not-for-profit association of professionals working in the areas of equal opportunity, compliance and diversity. The longest-serving organization of individuals in the equal opportunity and diversity profession, AAAED has 43 years of leadership providing quality professional training to practitioners and promoting understanding and advocacy of affirmative action and other equal opportunity laws.  

According to the New York Times, the Trump Administration is preparing to re-focus the resources of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division to investigate and file lawsuits against colleges and universities that use affirmative action programs "deemed to discriminate against white applicants."[1]

The actual "Detail Opportunity" reportedly states that the Civil Rights Division was seeking attorneys to work with the Office of the Assistant Attorney General on "investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions." This announcement was posted on Twitter by the Center for Investigative Reporting. The Administration has since "explained" that the Department was seeking volunteers to work on a complaint filed by Asian students against Harvard University, not a major policy announcement.

"Notwithstanding this latest 'clarification' by the Administration, it should be stated that student unrest at colleges and universities underscores continuing racial disparities, especially at selective academic institutions," said Shirley J. Wilcher, executive director at AAAED. A study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that this polarization has worsened since the mid-1990s. According to this study, white students accounted for 75 percent of freshman enrollment at colleges in the top three tiers of selectivity, according to Barron's college guide. Only seven percent of freshmen at such colleges were 
African-American and only eight percent were Hispanic. [2] "It is these institutions for whom affirmative action is employed as a means of diversifying the student body," Wilcher added.

Recent Supreme Court cases have upheld the limited use of race as a factor in higher education admissions.  Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) and Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin (2016) underscored the permissibility of race as part of a holistic review of a student's application for admission.  These cases also emphasized the benefits to both students of color and white students that flow from having a diverse student body.
Moreover, Fortune 500 companies have repeatedly filed amicus curiae briefs supporting the use of race as a factor in higher education admissions.  Their concern is "they won't be able to get the diverse workforce  they need unless colleges, business schools, and engineering institutions can take race into account to achieve diversity goals." [3]
"Our concern is that the Department of Justice's purported actions, even on behalf of one group of plaintiffs, could reflect a major policy reversal and could have a serious chilling effect on efforts to promote diversity at selective colleges and universities," said Dr. Myron Anderson, president of AAAED.  "That effect could even extend beyond the consideration of race upheld by the Court in Fisher to encompass recruitment and outreach and other efforts aimed at broadening opportunities for socioeconomically disadvantaged students, who are disproportionately non-white." 
What is most problematic for AAAED is if the Department invests the resources of the federal government behind efforts to broadly undermine affirmative action programs in admissions. "It is one thing for the government to file a brief for or against the policy, but the purpose of this initiative could be to target entire programs," continued Anderson.  

"It is our hope that the Attorney General will not use the Department's limited resources to attack Court-supported diversity programs. Such efforts would be unconscionable, harkening back to the status quo ante 1964, while the nation's student population and the future workforce is becoming increasingly diverse," Wilcher stated.

[1]  The New York Times, Justice Department to Take on Affirmative Action in College Admissions, August 1, 2017,

[2] Chronicle of Higher Education, Racial Disparities in Higher Education: an Overview, November 10, 2015,

[3] Fortune, Big Business Asks Supreme Court to Save Affirmative Action, Dec 09, 2015,

Media Contact
Name:  Shirley J. Wilcher
Title:     Executive Director
Phone: 240-893-9475
Email address:

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Justice Dept. to Take On Affirmative Action in College Admissions

by Charles Savage

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is preparing to redirect resources of the Justice Department’s civil rights division toward investigating and suing universities over affirmative action admissions policies deemed to discriminate against white applicants, according to a document obtained by The New York Times.
The document, an internal announcement to the civil rights division, seeks current lawyers interested in working for a new project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
The announcement suggests that the project will be run out of the division’s front office, where the Trump administration’s political appointees work, rather than its Educational Opportunities Section, which is run by career civil servants and normally handles work involving schools and universities.
The document does not explicitly identify whom the Justice Department considers at risk of discrimination because of affirmative action admissions policies. But the phrasing it uses, “intentional race-based discrimination,” cuts to the heart of programs designed to bring more minority students to university campuses.
Supporters and critics of the project said it was clearly targeting admissions programs that can give members of generally disadvantaged groups, like black and Latino students, an edge over other applicants with comparable or higher test scores.

To read more click here.

Report: Justice Department Will Target Affirmative Action

Trump administration plans to investigate and sue colleges and universities over admissions practices.

Scott Jaschik
August 2, 2017

A bombshell report in The New York TimesTuesday night revealed that the U.S. Justice Department plans to investigate and sue colleges over their affirmative action policies in admissions.
The Times cited an internal announcement to the Justice Department's civil rights division that seeks lawyers for a project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”
For supporters of affirmative action in college admissions, the news was a shock. Just over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the admissions policies of the University of Texas at Austin, which include consideration of race and ethnicity. Many college leaders feared, prior to the decision coming down, that affirmative action was endangered. But the decision -- just three years after another Supreme Court decision upholding affirmative action -- assured many that colleges could continue to consider race in admissions.
Critics of affirmative action have never abandoned their hope that the Supreme Court might some day revisit the issue, and a new lawsuit was filed against UT just weeks ago. But the backing of the U.S. Justice Department could give that movement new strength.

To read more and to see where we were quoted click here.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Colleges searching for creative, well-rounded students

Dear Mr. Bradshaw,
My son is a junior in high school and I am concerned about ethnic "quotas" for admissions at top colleges. He is Asian-American, and my friends tell me that many top colleges have quotas. They said that some Asian students who have been rejected had nearly perfect test scores and grades. How can my son escape the same fate when he applies in August?
Concerned Parent

Click here to read more.

As candidates for governor are pressed on affirmative action, Antonio Villaraigosa says it's vital to California

Gubernatorial candidates, who have been pressed to offer their thoughts on affirmative action by Latino and black state lawmakers, began to weigh in Monday evening.
Antonio Villaraigosa, the former mayor of Los Angeles, gave the most concrete response.
"Mayor Villaraigosa agrees with both caucuses that keeping this issue at the forefront is vital to the future of California,” a campaign spokeswoman said in a statement. “He went to UCLA on an affirmative action program and was on the frontline against Prop. 209. Villaraigosa believes California can’t truly be progressive unless we’re all making progress together, which means we must support and expand programs that lift more families into the middle class."
Villaraigosa was responding to a questionnaire sent to six Democratic and Republican gubernatorial candidates about affirmative action and the ramifications of a 1996 voter-approved law that banned it in publicly funded institutions of higher education.
The letter by the chairmen of the Latino and black legislative caucuses, which was mailed Friday, injects a potentially volatile racial issue that has previously splintered California Democrats into the 2018 contest.
The questions also raise a divisive 2014 effort to repeal the ban on affirmative action.

To read more click here.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Trump administration plans to minimize civil rights efforts in agencies

Juliet Eilperin, Emma Brown and Darryl Fears
May 29, 2017

The Trump administration is planning to disband the Labor Department division that has policed discrimination among federal contractors for four decades, according to the White House’s newly proposed budget, part of wider efforts to rein in government programs that promote civil rights.

As outlined in Labor’s fiscal 2018 plan, the move would fold the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, now home to 600 employees, into another government agency in the name of cost-cutting.

Read full story on The Washington Post.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Controversy Over Diversity Office at Salem College

Scott Jaschik
May 30, 2017

Salem College, which faced protests this year from minority students, has dismissed the head of its Office of Diversity and Inclusiveness, The Winston-Salem Journal reported. The college says that it is upgrading the office and will seek to hire a vice president to lead it. But minority students are criticizing the plan, saying that the current office and director provide important support.

Read full story on Inside Higher Ed

Storm Over Sexual Orientation

Though a new pro-LGBTQ group on Samford University’s campus has been approved by both students and faculty, it has roiled Alabama Baptists.

Jeremy Bauer-Wolf
May 30, 2017

Last month, the president of Samford University gave remarks just before professors voted on a controversial new student group. It's one centered on discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity, from a sympathetic perspective rather than a critical one, which would seemingly prompt friction among the constituents of the private, Baptist institution.

“Many of us who hold what are known as ‘traditional’ views of marriage and human sexuality today are called ‘haters,’” said President Andrew Westmoreland, according to a transcript of his comments. “The term is intended to hurt, and it does. So volleys fly back and forth between camps while positions and hearts are hardened, and we run the risk, the very serious risk, that we will drive away from our churches and our universities and our families a generation that thinks about these questions in different ways than we have known. I choose not to walk that path, because brokenness already abounds and I am loathe to add to it. I believe that we are people who are capable of discussing differences without rancor, perhaps modeling for our students and others a way to move along this most tortured route.”

Read full story on Inside Higher Ed. 

Analyzing Black Lives Matter Without Black People Involved

Political philosophy journal, subject of two scathing open letters, apologizes for lack of black authors.

Scott Jaschik
May 30, 2017

The June issue of The Journal of Political Philosophy devotes more than 60 pages to a three-author “symposium” on the Black Lives Matter movement.

The journal is now apologizing for doing so without including the work of black philosophers. And the controversy has drawn attention to the journal's generally poor record of publishing black scholars or, prior to the symposium, scholarship on issues related to race.

Read full story on Inside Higher Ed. 

Who Defines What Is Racist?

Students demand firing of Evergreen State professor. Police chief urges him to stay off campus for his safety. Supporters say he’s the one upholding principles of equity.

Scott Jaschik
May 30, 2017

In the heated debates of campus politics these days, it is not unusual for some groups (on or off campus) to demand the firing of a faculty member. But the rancor at Evergreen State College over the last week stands out. There, a professor whom some students want fired was told by the campus police chief that, out of concern for his safety, he should stay off campus for a few days. He did, teaching a class nearby in Olympia, Wash., and is not sure when he can return to campus.

The professor's critics say he's racist, and groups of students have been holding demonstrations -- sometimes turning into marches across campus and impromptu searches for the professor. They have been chanting that racist professors must be fired. Bret Weinstein (right), a biology professor, is the main target and is the faculty member who moved his class off campus. "Fire Bret" graffiti is visible on campus. But students are also demanding the dismissals of one or more police officers, that the campus police sell off all of its weapons and various other policy changes.

Read full story on Inside Higher Ed.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Trump’s Proposed EEOC-OFCCP Merger May Need Congressional Action

Jay-Anne B. Casuga and Kevin McGowan
May 24, 2017

President Donald Trump proposed merging the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and a Labor Department subagency tasked with monitoring federal contractors’ affirmative action and nondiscrimination compliance.

The EEOC and the DOL’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs would be combined to create “one agency to combat employment discrimination,” according to the president’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2018.

Read full story here.

Employer and Civil Rights Groups Oppose Merger of EEOC and OFCCP

Allen Smith
May 24, 2017

An item in President Trump's proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 met immediate resistance on Capitol Hill and among employer and civil rights groups: merging the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) into the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), creating one agency to combat employment discrimination.

"OFCCP and EEOC will work collaboratively to coordinate this transition to the EEOC by the end of FY 2018," the proposed budget states. "This builds on the existing tradition of operational coordination between the two agencies. The transition of OFCCP and integration of these two agencies will reduce operational redundancies, promote efficiencies, improve services to citizens and strengthen civil rights enforcement."

Read full story here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fresh but untested

Moon's laudable tapping of female foreign minister carries challenges

The Korea Times
May 24, 2107

President Moon Jae-in's designation of Kang Kyung-wha as foreign minister would score 90 out of a perfect 100 points merely for the fact that she would be the first woman to hold the office if confirmed by the National Assembly. 

But what makes the appointment a success or failure is how well Kang, a former United Nations deputy commissioner for human rights, will score out of the remaining 10 points. 

Read full story here

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Implications of Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court Confirmation

By AAAED Executive Director Shirley Wilcher

On April 7, 2017, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals as the 101st associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, replacing the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. The confirmation was based on a party-line vote of 54-45, and only three Democrats voted with the majority.

This vote was significant for several reasons, both procedural and substantive. The vote set a precedent that will have an impact on the way Supreme Court justices are confirmed for the foreseeable future. It may also have implications regarding issues of interest to the higher education and diverse communities.

Read full story on Insight Into Diversity.

Affirmative action programs mischaracterized as quota systems

May 17, 2017
St. Louis Post Dispatch

The letters about Justice Clarence Thomas’ criticisms of affirmative action are interesting. It is a fact that Thomas’ consideration for and acceptance of enrollment at College of the Holy Cross was prompted by the school’s affirmative action outreach initiative to recruit and consider more minority applicants. Why he accepted the enrollment offer, believing it was devaluing, is a mystery. Did he know for a fact that he was accepted over other, more-qualified non-minorities? Or does he just assume that because the school’s outreach initiative was affirmative?

Conservatives have always mischaracterized affirmative action programs solely as unconstitutional quota systems that force managers to select specific numbers of minorities regardless of their qualifications. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was largely about businesses expanding their recruitment horizons beyond past practices, which produced few minority candidates to consider.

Read full story here.