A federal judge endorsed the University of North Carolina’s (UNC) use of race as a factor in screening applicants after ruling that the university did not discriminate against white and Asian American applicants.

No discrimination: Judge Loretta Biggs ruled on Monday that the UNC’s undergraduate admissions process had not been discriminatory toward specific race groups, reported CNN.

  • The group Students for Fair Admissions alleged in its 2014 lawsuit that UNC deliberately discriminated against certain members by including race in its admissions process.
  • According to the suit, UNC allegedly used “racial preferences in undergraduate admissions where there are available race-neutral alternatives capable of achieving student body diversity,” and employed “an undergraduate admissions policy that uses race as a factor in admissions.”
  • Biggs argued, however, that UNC engages in “a highly individualized, holistic admissions program.”
  • According to Briggs, the university clearly demonstrated that its undergraduate admissions program “withstands strict scrutiny and is therefore constitutionally permissible.”
  • The judge further wrote: “While no student can or should be admitted to this University, or any other, based solely on race, because race is so interwoven in every aspect of the lived experience of minority students, to ignore it, reduce its importance and measure it only by statistical models as SFFA has done, misses important context to include obscuring racial barriers and obstacles that have been faced, overcome and are yet to be overcome.”

Upholding discriminatory policies: While the UNC welcomed the ruling, the SFFA expressed disappointment in how the court allegedly “upheld UNC’s discriminatory admissions policies.”

  • In a press statement, SFFA President Edward Blum said that they intend to file an appeal to the Fourth Court of Appeals and to the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • “We believe that the documents, emails, data analysis and depositions SFFA presented at trial compellingly revealed UNC’s systematic discrimination against non-minority applicants,” Blum added.
  • Office of University Communications Associate Vice Chancellor Beth Keith said in a statement that the ruling proved that UNC’s “holistic admissions approach is lawful.”
  • “We evaluate each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to a vibrant campus community where students from all backgrounds can excel and thrive,” she said.
  • Based on data from the UNC website, the incoming 5,630 students this year are composed of 65% who identified as White or Caucasian, 21% as Asian or Asian American, 12% as Black or African American and 10% who said they were Hispanic, Latina or Latino.

A similar lawsuit filed by SFFA against Harvard University in 2014 received the same ruling in 2019, NextShark previously reported. The Supreme Court effectively postponed action on it in June.

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