The Obama administration's policy to allow work permits for some students whose parents came to the U.S. illegally may have little direct impact on higher education, but colleges are helping students pursue the new status.
A student activities committee at Davidson College has banned serving Chick-fil-A at student events, pending a review of student opinion on the controversial restaurant chain, The Charlotte Observer reported. Students and others nationwide have been encouraging boycotts of Chick-fil-A because of statements by its president criticizing gay marriage. While many campuses have seen demands that Chick-fil-A campuses be kicked off campuses, that hasn't happened. In the case of Davidson, what is being suspended is bringing the food on campus for official student events organized by the committee, not removing a campus vendor.
St. Paul's College, a historically black college in Virginia, is suspending most operations for the fall semester, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. In the last month, the college has helped many of its students transfer to other institutions. The moves follow the decision in June of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to revoke St. Paul's accreditation. The college is appealing, and is also exploring possible mergers, but decided that suspending operations for the fall was the best course of action for now, officials said.
Monday is the deadline for briefs backing the University of Texas at Austin in its Supreme Court defense of the consideration of race in admissions. On Thursday, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill filed a brief, and included a new research study arguing for the educational value of diversity. The researchers, who looked at law school students, found that racial differences "contribute to learning because differences foster richer interactions and positive educational outcomes that benefit students, institutions and society," according to a summary by the university. "In addition, when a law school’s racial diversity was significant and group interaction was high, graduating law students perceived their law school as more open and respectful of diverse ideas."
Roger Clegg, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity, a group that opposes the consideration of race in admissions, questioned the study. In an e-mail message, he said: "The issues chosen to show how racial diversity correlates with perspective diversity are deliberately narrow (Anything about property? How about tax? ....), and of course law itself is a discipline in which such correlation is more likely than most others (Is there a Latina perspective in chemistry? Mathematics? Economics? Engineering? Russian? Etc.) Even if there are some educational benefits to having racial diversity in a class on "Race and the Law," that would not justify racial preferences in undergraduate admissions to the University of Texas."
The University of Texas on Monday filed its brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the affirmative action case that will be heard this fall. Texas has prevailed in lower courts, but faces a strong challenge and a potentially skeptical Supreme Court. The brief stresses that the university believes that having a diverse student body is an educational issue. Diversity, the brief says, "better prepares students to become the next generation of leaders in an increasingly diverse work force and society." But the brief also takes care to say that the university does not define diversity solely by race and ethnicity. "UT has a broad vision of diversity, which looks to a wide variety of individual characteristics — including an applicant’s culture; language; family; educational, geographic, and socioeconomic background; work, volunteer, or internship experiences; leadership experiences; special artistic or other talents, as well as race and ethnicity."