JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Following a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, lawmakers want to know how not being able to consider race when admitting students is affecting Missouri colleges and universities.
The ruling at the end of June struck down affirmative action in college admissions, meaning race cannot be a factor. This forced higher education institutions to look for new ways to achieve diverse student bodies, but in Missouri, public universities and colleges told the Joint Committee on Education that the decision wasn’t impacting them.
“It’s just not something that necessitates any kind of change in how we do business,” executive director of the Council on Public Higher Education Paul Wagner said. “Really competitive admissions, like the way it works in the world of the Harvards and such, really isn’t a thing for our institutions, so it’s really no impact.”
Just weeks after the United States Supreme Court said race-conscious admission plans violate the constitution, higher education institutions in Missouri say they aren’t phased.
“The undergraduate level, we’ve never included race as a factor in admissions, and that’s true for my colleagues at the other University of Missouri institutions as well,” vice provost for enrollment management at the University of Missouri Kim Humphrey said. “We look at academics only. We’ve looked at test scores and class rank, and if a student doesn’t have a class rank, then their test scores.”
The decision forced schools to reshape admission practices, but not in the Show-Me State. Missouri’s community colleges and the Department of Higher Education and Workforce Development told the Joint Committee on Education in a statement that they weren’t affected by the ruling.
“The point of this hearing wasn’t to stir anything up,” chairman Rep. Doug Richey, R-Excelsior Springs, said. “I find it to be helpful to have the public conversation so that our Missouri constituency is aware of where we are as a state.”
While undergraduate admissions are unchanged at Mizzou and other UM system campuses, some graduate programs have had to adapt.
“At the graduate level, yes, and for a few programs, and they are looking for other ways to review their applicants,” Humphrey said.
Some lawmakers want to know if institutions are now using backdoor questions instead during the application process.
“We want a diverse institution, but if we are using other ways of getting there, what are they doing to change their race question to get to that?,” Rep. Ed Lewis, R-Moberly, said.
“It really hasn’t affected us because, in admissions, it wasn’t a factor,” Humphrey said.
After the ruling, the University of Missouri System eliminated race as a consideration for scholarships. Earlier this year, the system also did away with diversity and inclusion statements during the hiring process.