Racial Preferences at Texas Tech


The National Association of Scholars applauds the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights for negotiating a Resolution Agreement that ended racial preferences at the Texas Tech University Health Science Center. This important step ensures that students are treated fairly and that Texas Tech does not subject applicants to discrimination on the basis of their race.

We thank the Trump administration for upholding the civil rights of all Americans.

Texas Tech announced in 2004 that it would add race as a factor in considering candidates for admission. That announcement followed the 2003 Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger,  in which the court ruled that the use of racial preferences was appropriate to achieve a “compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits” of a diverse student body—but only if race-neutral alternatives failed to achieve such diversity.

The Center for Equal Opportunity, noting that Texas Tech had not previously required racial preferences in order to admit racially diverse students, filed a complaint with the Department of Education.

Over the last fifteen years, under investigation by the Department of Education and under pressure from the Center for Equal Opportunity, Texas Tech has slowly unraveled its web of racial preferences. In 2008 the school of pharmacy discontinued its racial preferences regime. In 2013, the undergraduate admissions policy removed race as a factor.

Now, in February, the University Health Science Center has signed a Resolution Agreement with the Department of Education, vowing to end the use of race in all admissions proceedings and policies. If the university ever wishes to reinstate consideration of race, it must now provide an extensive justification for doing so, including a detailed consideration of how race-neutral alternatives could achieve the university’s educational goals.

We applaud Texas Tech for this important decision. Prospective students at Texas Tech are the true beneficiaries of this change. Applicants will have confidence that Texas Tech will evaluate their applications fairly, without awarding points on the basis of their race. 

We call on all colleges and universities to cease using race as a factor in admissions, hiring, and promotion decisions. No applicant should be judged favorably or unfavorably on the basis of his race.

We also encourage other colleges and universities to use Texas Tech’s Resolution Agreement as a model to guide their own admissions proceedings and policies. We likewise encourage citizens and organizations who sue educational institutions for practicing illegal racial discrimination to use the Resolution Agreement as a standard by which to judge our colleges’ and universities’ misbehavior.

We further urge the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to continue strict and timely oversight on Texas Tech, to ensure that the university follows through on its commitment.

The Texas Tech Resolution Agreement can become a model for the nation. But for that to happen, the Department of Education will have to keep Texas Tech’s feet to the fire, to make sure they put the Agreement into practice. The National Association of Scholars will keep an eye on this case. We will applaud the Department of Education for every step it takes to turn this declaration of principle into a fact on the ground.

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