KU committed to diversity, despite recent Trump announcement on affirmative action

photo by: Mike Yoder

KU students visit between classes outside of Wescoe Hall and across Jayhawk Boulevard from Strong Hall on Friday, Feb. 6, 2015.

University of Kansas Chancellor Douglas Girod has weighed in on the recent decision by President Donald Trump’s administration to revoke Obama-era guidance on affirmation action in college admissions, assuring KU colleagues of the university’s commitment to diversity.

On Tuesday, the same day the White House announced plans to rescind the guidelines, Girod said KU would “continue its efforts to create a diverse community of scholars across our campuses.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the move earlier this week, with the Department of Justice releasing a statement that called the Obama administration’s diversity guidance “unnecessary, outdated, inconsistent with existing law, or otherwise improper.”

“Public universities like KU have long served society by providing education to students from different backgrounds,” Girod wrote in his response statement. “At KU, we recognize that every member of our community benefits from having diverse students who bring various experiences and perspectives to our university.

University of Kansas Chancellor Doug Girod attends a Kansas Board of Regents meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017, in Wichita.

“A diverse community helps expand students’ worldview and better prepares them to enter the global workforce, where they will need to interact with people from different backgrounds,” he added.

Girod’s statement echoes many others issued by university leaders, education advocacy groups and civil rights organizations across the country following Tuesday’s news. On the Fourth of July, the Association of American Medical Colleges released a statement criticizing the move, asserting that diversity among medical students “is necessary to prepare physicians to provide care to an increasingly diverse population and to address significant health disparities.”

The AAMC also argued that the Trump administration’s decision “signals opposition to the consideration of race as one of the many individualized factors in higher education admissions, despite the fact that the Supreme Court has upheld this practice for 40 years, and as recently as 2016.”

Girod, a former executive vice chancellor at KU Medical Center, moved to the Lawrence campus last July after serving 13 years on the KU Med faculty.

In his statement Tuesday, Girod said the Trump administration’s announcement would not change KU’s admissions processes.

The guidance reversed earlier this week said that while race shouldn’t be the main factor in admissions decisions, it could be lawfully considered by schools in efforts to create a more diverse student body. The guidance’s reversal does not affect how individual schools decide to implement their own admissions standards within the confines of the current Supreme Court precedent.

In the meantime, “We will monitor developments in conjunction with our peers across higher education, and we will continue to foster a diverse campus to the benefit of Jayhawks and the society we serve,” Girod said.

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