Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Audrey Anderson was interviewed on the Bloomberg Law podcast about recent developments in the higher education sector related to race conscious admissions and the use of standardized testing for college applicants.
On the podcast, Audrey first discussed the Supreme Court’s decision to allow West Point Naval Academy to use race as a factor in admissions. This decision can be seen as a departure from the Court’s decision last year banning race considerations at colleges and universities where they were doing so “for the educational benefits of a diverse student body.” However as Audrey pointed out, in those 2023 cases against Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the Court added a footnote saying, “what we’re doing today doesn’t say anything about the use of race in our nation’s military academies because military academies may have potentially distinct interests from the civilian colleges and universities.”
In response to a requested injunction by the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) – the organization that brought the suit against West Point – the Supreme Court denied the injunction saying, “the record before this Court is underdeveloped and this order should not be construed as expressing any view on the merits of the Constitutional question.” In response to this rare type of statement, Audrey pointed to the very aggressive position that SFFA took on this case – filing for emergency injunctive relief with the Supreme Court before the appeals had played out. The case will now be sent back to the Second Circuit which will now decide on the appeal.
Audrey also discussed the use of standardized testing – such as the ACT or SAT – for college applicants on the podcast. Dartmouth College recently announced it will again begin requiring standardized test scores for applicants, which some institutions had stopped using during the pandemic. The decision follows studies and research that Dartmouth did about the use of these types of tests. Audrey summed the research up saying, “If you’re only looking at grade point averages, teacher recommendations, and extracurricular activities, if you have a student who is coming from a disadvantaged background, it can be hard for that student to stand out. And elite colleges may not be very familiar with their high school. If a student from one of those high schools gets a standardized test score, that might not be a ‘perfect score’ on the SAT or the ACT, but it’s still a strong score, it is a way for that student to distinguish themselves.”
The podcast, “West Point Race Conscious Admissions & Border Bill,” was released by Bloomberg Law on February 6 and is available wherever you get your podcast content.