The Trump Administration’s recently announced that the Justice Department will “investigate and sue colleges that use ‘intentional race-based discrimination.’” The justification provided is that affirmative action policies “discriminate” against white applicants. However, as Washington Post columnist Christine Emba argues, white applicants are widely not excluded from colleges and universities because of racial minority applicants. Quite the contrary, she examines elite colleges and universities and writes that “80% of top students who apply are accepted into at least one elite school.” She concludes that what keeps working-class white students, the group to which President Trump is speaking to, is actually income disparity.
Jesuit colleges and universities have been committed to addressing issues of both economic and racial disparities on their campuses. For example, in 1981, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities established the annual Conference on Minority Affairs (now Conference on Diversity and Equity) to increase higher education access to persons of color and better support students of color once enrolled at Jesuit institutions.
There is much to be proud of, too. University of San Francisco, for example, tied for second most diverse undergraduate population in 2017.
How might our colleges and universities increase our commitment to justice and continue to ensure access to all students, especially those who come from historically underrepresented populations? What conversations and actions are needed to make higher education a reality for more persons of color?
The cover picture is courtesy of the Ignatian Solidarity Network.