As a result of a complaint that the Center for Equal Opportunity filed in 2004 against Texas Tech, the medical school there recently signed a Resolution Agreement (RA) with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, ending its use of racial preferences in admissions. As of March 1, “an applicant’s race and/or national origin are no longer to be considered.”
Kudos to Texas Tech: This is even more impressive than its run to the Final Four!
Our complaint was filed when, after the Supreme Court had issued its 2003 decisions narrowly upholding the use of racial-admission preferences in some circumstances, Texas Tech announced that it would begin considering race, notwithstanding the fact that it had not been doing so and had achieved plenty of racial and ethnic diversity nonetheless. In our view, since the Court made clear that race was not to be used except as a last resort, Texas Tech’s announced new policy was unjustifiable.
In the course of the 15-year investigation that followed, the university clarified or backed away from its 2005 pronouncement until, by last November, only the investigation of the five health-science schools remained. They, too, then clarified or backed away, so that by early this year the medical school was the only outlier. And on February 20 it came around, too. The relevant documents are posted on our website, here.
All this is significant for two reasons. First, it shows again that the Trump administration is serious about enforcing the civil-rights laws so that they forbid discrimination against all racial and ethnic groups, and will not turn a blind eye toward politically correct racial discrimination in the way the Obama administration did. (To get into the weeds just a bit: The one possible quibble I have with the RA is that it does not explicitly require consideration of the considerable costs of using race in admissions, such as “mismatch” — but this might be better considered part of the “compelling interest” prong rather than the “narrow tailoring” prong of “strict scrutiny” under the Supreme Court’s jurisprudence.)
Second, the more schools there are that do not use racial preferences, the harder it becomes for other schools to justify their use. The law permits the use of racial preferences in admissions only as a last resort to achieve the “educational benefits” of a “diverse” student body. But if a lot of other schools don’t need to use them, then what excuse do the remaining schools have?
Consider: In addition to Texas Tech, medical schools elsewhere throughout the country — for starters, in California, Washington, Michigan, Nebraska, Arizona, and Oklahoma, all of which have banned the use of preferences in public universities there by ballot initiative — no longer use racial preferences. And if preferences aren’t used in California and Washington, then why do they have to be used on Oregon? If they’re not used in Arizona and Oklahoma and West Texas, then why are they used in Colorado and New Mexico? And if they aren’t used in Nebraska and Michigan, then why are they used in Iowa and Wisconsin? I have to add also that, as objectionable as the use of racial preferences is in any context, it is especially disturbing when nonmeritocratic political correctness is used to choose people who will have literally life-and-death responsibilities.
So, again, congratulations to Texas Tech for doing the right thing with regard to racial discrimination, which is more important than (almost) winning a national basketball championship.