‘Diversity in Higher Ed is Under Attack’- Biden Admin Awards Minority Colleges $100 Million in Wake of SCOTUS’ Affirmative Action Ban

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The Biden administration is sending $100 million to colleges that primarily serve minority Americans

A news release last week from the Department of Education announced Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions are eligible for a pot of almost $100 million in grants for infrastructure improvement and what the release calls “improved student outcomes for underserved students.”

The release stated that $25 billion in funding has been poured into those colleges during the Biden administration.

The announcement of the funding comes weeks after the Supreme Court ruled that affirmative action programs as currently structured could not be used to determine college admissions.

The release put the move in the context of the Supreme Court decision.

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“At a time when diversity in higher education is under attack, it’s never been more important to invest in our nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, community colleges, and other inclusive institutions,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.

“These grant programs represent opportunities for our nation’s most inclusive and diverse colleges and universities to expand their capacity to drive research and innovation and strengthen evidence-based supports that help underserved students successfully complete their degrees and build brighter futures,” he said.

The grant fund has two parts. In one, minority-serving colleges can apply for money to bolster their ability to conduct research.

The release said that more money is needed to help minority students succeed.

“Many students of color and with low incomes still face barriers to successfully enrolling in and completing college, and as the number of non-traditional students in postsecondary education increases, additional and different supports are required to enable students to successfully complete their credentials,” the release said.

In a 6-3 ruling in June, the court said affirmative action policies pursued by Harvard University and the University of North Carolina violate the Constitution.

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Chief Justice John Roberts was joined by Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett in the majority. Justices Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor dissented in both the Harvard and UNC cases. Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson recused her self from the Harvard case, but dissented in the UNC case.

“Universities may define their missions as they see fit. The Constitution defines ours. Courts may not license separating students on the basis of race without an exceedingly persuasive justification that is measurable and concrete enough to permit judicial review,” the majority ruling stated. “ … The programs at issue here do not satisfy that standard.

“The race-based admissions systems that respondents employ also fail to comply with the twin commands of the Equal Protection Clause that race may never be used as a ‘negative’ and that it may not operate as a stereotype.”

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The ruling noted that the colleges involved in the case “suggest that race is not a negative factor because it does not impact many admissions decisions.”

However, it also noted that “respondents also maintain that the demographics of their admitted classes would meaningfully change if race-based admissions were abandoned. And they acknowledge that race is determinative for at least some — if not many — of the students they admit.”

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