Federal Judge Allows University of North Carolina to Continue Race-Based Admissions Policy

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be allowed to continue its race-based admissions policy after a federal judge ruled on Monday the college did not discriminate against white and Asian American prospective students.

U.S. District Judge Loretta Biggs in Winston-Salem said that the university uses a "highly individualized, holistic admissions program" and that no student was admitted simply because of their race in the 161-page ruling.

"While no student can or should be admitted to this University, or any other, based solely on race, because race is so interwoven in every aspect of the lived experience of minority students, to ignore it, reduce its importance and measure it only by statistical models as Students for Fair Admissions has done, misses important context to include obscuring racial barriers and obstacles that have been faced, overcome and are yet to be overcome," Biggs said.

The ruling came after the Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA), a group founded by conservative anti-affirmative action activist Edward Blum, accused the school of violating the U.S. Constitution and the Civil Rights Act in 2014 by selecting race as a factor in the admissions process.

The lawsuit alleged that the selection process favored Black and Hispanic candidates to the disadvantage of white and Asian American applicants.

However, Biggs said that the college only narrowly considered race, deeming it permissible under the Constitution, and said UNC has a "compelling and substantial interest in pursuing and attaining the educational benefits of diversity."

University Of North Carolina Race Based Policy
The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will be allowed to continue its race-based admissions policy after a federal judge ruled on Monday the college did not discriminate against white and Asian American prospective students. Pictured: Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on August 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. The school halted in-person classes and reverted back to online courses after a rise in the number of COVID-19 cases over the past week. Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

She added that even 70 years after the college's first Black students were admitted, "the minority students at the university still report being confronted with racial epithets, as well as feeling isolated, ostracized, stereotyped and viewed as tokens."

Biggs added that other minorities are still admitted to UNC at lower rates than their white and Asian American peers. She continued that the university also considered strategies that were race-neutral that included improved recruiting strategies, offering more financial aid and admitting more transfer students.

UNC Associate Vice Chancellor Beth Keith said the ruling makes it clear the university's "holistic admissions approach is lawful." The university also considered strategies that were race-neutral that included improved recruiting strategies, offering more financial aid and admitting more transfer students.

"We evaluate each student in a deliberate and thoughtful way, appreciating individual strengths, talents and contributions to a vibrant campus community where students from all backgrounds can excel and thrive," Keith said in a statement.

SFFA said it plans to appeal the judge's ruling which may leave the case in the hands of the Supreme Court. Blum told The New York Times his group would "ask the justices to end these unfair and unconstitutional race-based admissions policies."

The nonprofit is appealing a similar lawsuit regarding Harvard's race-based admission policies.

Newsweek reached out to Blum for comment.