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  • Writer's pictureWGON

Ivy Leagues lower admissions standards in anticipation of SCOTUS eliminating affirmative action

As the Supreme Court considers removing affirmative action from the university admissions process, both Harvard and Yale law schools this week announced they were exiting ranking by the US News & World Report, which would reduce the elite colleges' reliance on merit-based LSAT scores for admissions.

According to the Wall Street Journal, "This sounds like cover for a desire by Yale to be free to admit students with lower test scores in service to diversity, but without taking a hit to its exclusive reputation."

Vivek Ramaswamy wrote on Twitter, "Yale and Harvard are actively preparing for the Supreme Court to strike down affirmative action: they are de-emphasizing test scores and GPAs, likely as a backdoor mechanism that gives them more wiggle room to achieve 'diversity' at the expense of merit."

Yale Law Dean Gerken said, "Today, 20 percent of a law school's overall ranking is median LSAT/GRE scores and GPAs. While academic scores are an important tool, they don't always capture the full measure of an applicant. This heavily weighted metric imposes tremendous pressure on schools to overlook promising students, especially those who cannot afford expensive test preparation courses."

The Wall Street Journal called the LSAT a merit-based "equalizer," and wrote that "for the price of a prep book, a low- or middle-income applicant can use an excellent score to compete with thousands of affluent applicants with polished resumes or connections."

The forced-diversity issue is being litigated as the Supreme Court on October 31 heard oral arguments in two cases that challenge affirmative action in university admissions. The cases, brought forth by Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), are against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina, respectively, and were filed in federal court in 2014.

At issue in these cases was the definition of the word "diversity", whether or not said diversity is useful or preferable on campus, and whether or not it is discriminatory to use race as a determining factor in university admissions.

SFFA alleges that those who suffer most from Harvard's affirmative action admissions standards are Asian American students. Asian American students of equal qualification to white, black, or Hispanic students, SFFA argues, are less likely to be admitted.

The case against the University of North Carolina alleges that the school used affirmative action to create a diverse student body even though it didn't need to use that method. UNC admissions use race as a "plus" factor, and this distinction was enough for federal district judge Loretta Biggs to allow the policy to stand.

SFFA stands on the precedential case Brown v. Board of Education to argue that there should be no racial segregation in schools. These cases would overturn the 2003 Supreme Court ruling in Grutter v. Bollinger that explicitly allowed universities to use race as a factor in admissions for the purpose of achieving a racially diverse student body. The SFFA argues that the ruling in Grutter allowing racial considerations in university admissions was "egregiously wrong", that it has led to "significant negative consequences", and that the previous ruling is essentially outmoded, nearly 20 years later.

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