A Victory For Affirmative Action, And For Many Colleges A Sigh Of Relief : NPR Ed By a 4-3 vote, the Supreme Court has upheld the use of race in admissions at the University of Texas at Austin. Much of higher education welcomed the decision.

A Victory For Affirmative Action, And For Many Colleges A Sigh Of Relief

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All right, in other news, the nation's colleges and universities have been waiting for the Supreme Court to decide whether race can be a factor in admissions policies. Yesterday, they got the answer - yes. Here's NPR's Claudio Sanchez.

CLAUDIO SANCHEZ, BYLINE: Reaction among higher education groups and institutions was one of relief.

TERRY HARTLE: Oh, there's no question.

SANCHEZ: Terry Hartle is with the American Council on Education, which represents 1,700 college presidents.

HARTLE: Perhaps the key issue is whether and to what extent colleges, universities can consider race without discriminating against other students. It's not easy. Institutions have to have very carefully defined plans. The court has made clear that they will review them with great care.

SANCHEZ: Which is why college and university attorneys are already reviewing every sentence of the majority opinion written by Justice Anthony Kennedy. What Kennedy makes clear is that upholding the use of race in admissions only means that the University of Texas may not rely on that same policy without refinement. Some say that's wishful thinking.

RICHARD KAHLENBERG: My fear is that universities will continue to go on business as usual.

SANCHEZ: Richard Kahlenberg is author of "The Remedy: Class, Race, And Affirmative Action." He says relying on race rather than replacing it means we will keep revisiting this issue. Kahlenberg is a long time proponent of admitting students based on family income and other socio-economic factors, although Kahlenberg concedes...

KAHLENBERG: Income-based affirmative action doesn't produce as much racial diversity as using race.

SANCHEZ: But Kahlenberg says if admissions officials look deeper at families net worth, where students grew up and the likelihood that poor black and Latino students come from neighborhoods where everybody is poor...

KAHLENBERG: Then you can produce a vibrant degree of racial and ethnic diversity alongside of economic diversity.

SANCHEZ: For now, though, college admissions officials are saying they're happy with the court's ruling.

SHANNON GUNDY: For the University of Maryland, as I think for many institutions, this is very good news.

SANCHEZ: Maryland's director of admissions, Shannon Gundy.

GUNDY: Our job is to shape a class of students that's bringing diversity in all of its forms. So we try to look at everything that we have about a student. And we believe that the student's race is an important part of who they are and what they can bring to the University of Maryland.

SANCHEZ: And that, says Gundy, is what the Supreme Court has endorsed, for now. Claudio Sanchez, NPR News.

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