The Trump administration, according to the New York Times, will encourage local colleges and universities to adopt race-blind admission standards, reversing policy under former President Barack Obama.
Just what impact the administration's stance will have on college admissions locally is uncertain. Staffing on many campuses was sparse Tuesday afternoon, as the July Fourth holiday approached. Attempts to reach several admissions deans were unsuccessful.
But Temple University on Tuesday issued a statement in support of its consideration of race in admissions.
"Temple University is proud of its diverse student population and university community," the statement read. "Fostering diversity includes consideration of many characteristics of Temple applicants, including academic achievement, extracurricular activities, ethnicity, race, gender, socioeconomic status and life experience, among other aspects. Temple recognizes that diversity improves the educational experience for all students and strives to achieve diversity through a holistic admissions process."
Many colleges for years have been considering race as a factor in admissions, in an attempt to admit increasingly diverse freshmen classes.
And their efforts were bolstered by a 2016 Supreme Court case. By a 4-3 vote, the court upheld the University of Texas at Austin's argument that it needed to consider race to ensure diversity of its student body and that it had exhausted other means of achieving that goal. Many local schools, including Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges and Bucknell, Temple, and Drexel Universities, joined in court briefs filed in the case, arguing in favor of allowing the use of race as a criterion to enhance diversity.
The Trump administration move comes amid a high profile lawsuit by Asian American students against Harvard, accusing the Ivy League school of discriminating against them in the admissions process, as the swing vote in the Texas case is preparing to exit the Supreme Court.
Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who had not supported affirmative-action cases in the past, joined with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor, and Stephen G. Breyer to affirm the the University of Texas' admission practice.
Kennedy announced his retirement last month, and with Trump scheduled to appoint a successor, colleges eventually could lose the legal right to consider race in admissions.
The Congressional Black Caucus on Tuesday quickly condemned the administration's intentions.
"The president is sending a message to his future nominee and to his base that he and his administration don't care about diversity and will actively work to turn back the clock," said Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D., La.), chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus.
If college officials' reaction to the 2016 case is any indication, they won't be happy.
"We do believe in the value of diversity in the undergraduate admission process," Jim Bock, dean of admissions at Swarthmore, said, lauding the Supreme Court decision in 2016. "A diverse community enriches the academic experience for all the students, so we're excited the court has affirmed that moving forward."
Randall C. Deike, who oversees admissions at Drexel, also hailed the decision in 2016. Drexel, he said at that time, also considers other factors, such as test scores, grades, the rigor of the high school curriculum, and an applicant's home state.
"Our goal is to make sure our campus reflects the world in which our students are going to live and work," he said