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Students of color on a college campus

Yale University made wide-ranging changes to its admissions policies in an agreement over a newly reopened affirmative action lawsuit.

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A lawsuit against Yale University over its affirmative action policies was dropped on Thursday after the university agreed to make significant changes to its admissions policies.

The lawsuit was filed in 2021 by Students for Fair Admissions, the group that brought the affirmative action cases against Harvard and the University of North Carolina that resulted in the Supreme Court decision in June striking down race-conscious admissions. The Yale case was stayed pending the outcome of the Harvard and UNC cases but reopened in July.

The agreement stipulates that Yale make some of the most significant and wide-reaching admissions policy changes to be spurred by the Supreme Court’s ruling so far, encompassing not only race-conscious admissions but financial aid and data transparency as well.

They include:

  • Updating the university’s training materials to make the ban on considering race explicit to application readers and admissions counselors.
  • Taking “technological steps” to ensure that nobody involved in admissions decisions has access to data on the racial identity of individual applicants during the review process.
  • Refraining from producing reports on the aggregate racial or ethnic makeup of applicants or admitted students during the review process.
  • Ensuring that race is not a factor in any financial aid calculations or rewards.

Yale spokesperson Karen Peart wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed that the changes are “intended to comply with the Supreme Court ruling and not part of a settlement,” though they are listed as stipulations in the voluntary agreement reached between the university and SFFA.

She added that Yale has never considered race in calculating financial aid, but did not answer further questions about whether the agreement applied to external scholarships that the university administers.

SFFA president Ed Blum wrote in an email that the group was “satisfied for now” that Yale's policies are in compliance with the Supreme Court ruling.

Yale also announced a spate of changes to its recruitment practices to “expand outreach” and “build a culture of belonging.” Those include:

  • Hiring two full-time admissions officers to increase engagement with college access groups and pioneer new student-focused outreach and recruitment initiatives.
  • Using more race-neutral geographic data in analyzing applicants, with the goal of increasing the number of lower-income attendees from underresourced areas.
  • Providing travel and lodging support to prospective applicants interested in the university’s Multicultural Open House, which celebrates “diversity and inclusion at Yale,” according to its website.
  • Launching a college prep summer program on Yale’s campus for students from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Strengthening pipeline programs for New Haven public high school students.

Yale also introduced three new essay prompts for applicants to choose from. They can describe a community they feel a strong connection to, discuss how an element of their “personal experience” has shaped them or reflect on a conversation with someone who holds different viewpoints than they do. Many institutions have rolled out new application questions this fall to provide students with opportunities to discuss their racial identities while complying with the Supreme Court decision.

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