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As the body of research on issues related to access and diversity in higher education grows, it’s important to develop new polices and reevaluate existing ones to ensure they remain ethical and effective.

This page features the latest access- and diversity-related news and events to keep you up to date on the latest developments in the field.


Webinar: Federal Non-Discrimination Law: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs

The ADC hosted a webinar on January 16, 2019. The webinar addressed the issues of federal non-discrimination law relevant to higher education financial aid and scholarship policies and programs. Also, the webinar discussed effective and sustainable financial aid program design, with attention to U.S. Department of Education Title VI policies and OCR case resolutions on the topic. In addition, the webinar provided insight into and offered ideas about strategies and action steps that can help achieve institutional goals, while also mitigating legal risk.

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Webinar: The 2018 Legal Landscape: Litigation and Agency Actions Regarding Federal Non-Discrimination Law in Higher Education

The ADC hosted a webinar on December 14th. Presenters reflected on the recent legal landscape and provided insight regarding important actions postsecondary institutions may take to continuously build the necessary evidence base to sustain their diversity efforts. Based on these developments, presenters offered insights into important higher education strategies that can advance mission-based institutional interests in ways that also mitigate legal risk.

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2019 Higher Ed Colloquium

January 12-14, 2019. Delray Beach, FL.

Learn more.

2019 Regional Forums.

Middle States Regional Forum, Baltimore, MD. February 6, 2019

Inclusion and Free Expression: Understanding Today’s College Landscape- Issues of free speech and hate speech on college campuses are forcing institutions to consider, define, and harmonize their free speech policies. This Access and Diversity Collaborative (ADC) session will delve into the challenging issues of student inclusion and expression, with a discussion of the array of issues that are publicly surfacing on campus. Also discussed will be legal baselines that should inform judgments about free speech, and illustrations of best practices to help prepare for and manage crises that may occur. We will invite education leaders to discuss the role of colleges and universities in providing opportunities for civil discourse.


ADC New Publications

  1. Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrationswhich provides insights into the values, logic and rigor behind effective holistic review in higher education admissions. Incorporating key legal principles associated with federal court cases that have challenged the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions, the guide discusses key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy development and process management—with institutional examples that illustrate effective practice. The guide also calls on the higher education community to think differently about transparency and communications associated with holistic review in admissions.

ADC Upcoming Publications

  1. Financial Aid Guide. This guide addresses an area of importance for good policy and legal practice in the current campus, federal, and societal environment.

ADC Member Spotlight

  1. American Council on Education- On November 29, 2018, the American Council on Education sponsored a session to discuss their new report "Speaking Truth and Acting with Integrity: Confronting Challenges of Campus Racial Climate," which focuses on the way institutional leaders respond to and rebuild their campus community following a racial incident. The report focuses on a case study of the University of Missouri-Columbia and the University of Missouri System. The full report is available here. A brief summary of the session is available here.
  2. National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators- In November 2018, the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators published their annual impact report nasfaanow. The report's featured article focuses on recognizing and challenging implicit bias and builds on a NASFAA conference session led by Lena Tenney, coordinator of public engagement, Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. The article discusses the ways implicit bias may manifest itself at institutions of higher education and within financial aid offices and offers suggestions for how institutions and offices can challenge such biases and create more inclusive environments for students. The full report is available here.
  3. ADC Sponsor Institution- On November 8, 2018, several ADC sponsor institutions and colleges and universities across the country participated in the second annual First-Generation College Celebration Day. This event, led by the Council for Opportunity in Education and the Center for First-Generation Student Success of NASPA-Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education, is held to celebrate the successes of first-generation college students. Institutions participated in a variety of ways including by holding rallies, panel discussions, listening sessions, and celebrations highlighting the accomplishments of first generation college students, faculty, and staff. More information on the annual event is available here.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts. Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) alleges and Harvard denies that Harvard failed to satisfy the race neutral alternatives and other evidence of need requirements to justify consideration of race in admissions under the Supreme Court's standards for compliance with federal law (Title VI), and that Harvard discriminated against Asian students by stereotyping them. (See the July 2018 and October 2018 newsletters for a fuller summary.) After lengthy fact discovery, the Harvard case went to trial in federal trial court on October 15, 2018.

The trial ended on November 2, 2018, and the trial judge has asked the parties to propose findings of fact and law that she can consider. Each party has until December 19, 2018 to file and January 23, 2019 to respond to the another's filings. She is also giving anyone who wants to weigh in until January 9, 2019 to file additional amicus briefs. The earliest that the judge could decide the case is likely late January or February 2019; however, it would not be surprising if she took longer to reach a decision.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, U.S. District Court for the North Carolina Middle District.

Limited remaining pre-trial fact discovery must be completed by December 19, 2018. Any motions of the parties for “summary judgement,” requesting the Court to decide the case under applicable law without a trial based on facts established in discovery, are due January 18, 2019. A trial date has not yet been set. It is anticipated that the trial date will likely be set in the first half of 2019. On August 10, 2018, The News & Observer, of North Carolina, reported that UNC has spent $16.8 million thus far in expenses mainly for lawyers and data experts on the suit. The article is here.

Recent Lawsuit filed against the University of California System

On November 15, 2018, The Chronicle of Higher Education published "Who Else Will Get Sued over Their Admissions Policies?," which discusses the recent lawsuit filed by Richard Sanders and the Asian American Community Services Center against the University of California System in an effort to gain access to admissions and enrollment data. The full article is here. Additional articles on this lawsuit were also published on November 15, 2018 in The New York Times (available here) and The Wall Street Journal (available here.)

Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

On October 17, 2018, House Education and the Workforce Committee Ranking Member Bobby Scott (D-VA) and Senate HELP Committee Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA), along with 150 Democratic members of Congress, sent a letter to USED Secretary Betsy DeVos urging her to release information on how the Department has implemented the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. The Members reference a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report which indicated over 99% of borrowers applying for PSLF have been denied. A press release is here. The GAO report is here.