After a 5th-circuit court decision this summer barring the law school at the University of Texas from considering race as a factor in its admissions process, Emory administrators and officials have taken a close look at their own procedures to ensure that a diverse pool of applicants and students remain within the University's ranks.
Although the appeals court decision, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in July, does not apply to schools outside the 5th circuit, the ruling creates a precedent that may be used in cases elsewhere. Joe Crooks, vice president and general counsel, said the ruling would have "no direct impact" on Emory, but the University should make sure it is in compliance with Department of Education guidelines for admissions procedures.
"[The University of Texas] had entirely separate categories and cutoffs for minorities and non-minorities in admissions procedures," Crooks said. Emory does not use this dual process of admission; because of this, Crooks said, Emory should not be affected or worried by the Texas decision.
"Emory's responsibility right now is not to do anything rash, but to review admissions processes in each school in accordance with the Department of Education's guidelines," Crooks said.
Crooks explained that the Texas decision was "very broad" and said that there are "good, strong arguments that diversity is very important, not just racial diversity. There's a saying in the legal profession that `great cases make bad law.'
"It's easy to overreact to a case like this--I'm glad we aren't in Texas," Crooks continued. "But Emory's commitment to Affirmative Action and diversity will not be affected."
Dan Walls, director of admissions in Emory College, agreed with Crooks' sentiments. "We rely on legal counsel for these types of things, and we've reviewed our current policies," Walls said. "For now, we aren't changing anything."
Walls also mentioned that Texas' dual admission system was not in effect at Emory. "Minority candidates follow the same criteria as anyone else," he said.
Emory is extremely committed to building a diverse pool of applicants, however, especially through the recruiting process. "We use very targeted recruiting strategies to build a solid applicant pool," Walls said. "Our goal is to recruit as broadly as we can.
"It's a concern for any university when these types of cases come through," Walls continued. "We must be careful and have legal advice to ensure that Emory's commitment to diversity will not be affected."