Texas School Agrees to Stop Using Race in Admissions, First in Nation

April 10, 2019 Updated: April 10, 2019

A medical school in Texas will no longer consider race in its admissions decisions—the first in the nation—as the Trump administration seeks to roll back affirmative-action practices put into place by the Obama administration.

The move is part of an agreement between the U.S. Department of Education and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) in Lubbock. The school’s civil rights office reached the deal in February, ending a 14-year investigation into its admission practices.

Scott Lacefield, the school’s senior communications director, told The Epoch Times that they are working with the Education Department to ensure the school provides “diverse cultures, lifestyles, personal beliefs and ideas of all those we serve.”

“[TTUHSC] is committed to a diverse and inclusive medical education and experience while working collaboratively with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights,” he said via email on April 10.

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos listens during an Interagency Working Group on Youth Programs meeting at the State Dining Room of the White House March 18, 2019 in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Lacefield also noted that Texas Tech’s School of Medicine department was recently ranked No. 8 in the country among Top Minority Producers of Health Degrees. He said the medical school was committed to “holistic alternatives to enhancing diversity.”

The agreement is the first time that the Trump administration has requested a school to end its affirmative-action practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Under Secretary Betsy DeVos, the education department last summer rescinded guidelines put in place under President Barack Obama that said colleges and universities could consider race in admissions decisions as a way of promoting diversity.

A resolution agreement letter in February from the school to the Education Department obtained by The Epoch Times outlined the school’s current plan.

President Donald Trump makes remarks during the inaugural meeting of the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council in the Cabinet Room at the White House April 4, 2019 in Washington. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“[TTUHSC] is committed to exploring race-neutral alternatives to enhancing diversity and fully and completely evaluating its current admissions policies and practices to ensure it is appropriately and lawfully considering an applicant’s race and/or national origin in its admissions process,” the letter stated.

The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights said in a complaint that the school’s racial discrimination was “one of many factors” in their admissions process that was in “violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” The act outlaws discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

Investigations

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a series of cases that universities may use affirmative action to increase minority enrollment on their campuses. Conservatives have argued that such programs can hurt those who are academically qualified, but don’t fit the race profile stipulated at the time under affirmative-action guidelines, arguing that other kinds of diversity, such as socioeconomic status, should also be considered.

A federal judge is weighing a lawsuit that accuses Harvard University of discriminating against Asian-American applicants. Legal experts believe the case could end up before the U.S. Supreme Court and have far-reaching implications regarding affirmative action.

Meanwhile, Harvard and Yale University are under investigation by the Justice Department over claims of discrimination against Asian-Americans. Both schools have denied the allegations.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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