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Ohio State reviews admissions policy in light of SCOTUS affirmative action ruling

Lantern file photo OSU freshmen enter Ohio Stadium after Convocation in 2010.

Lantern file photo

A recent Supreme Court of the United States ruling has led to a review of Ohio State’s admissions policy.

The case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, began in 2008 when a white Texas-resident named Abigail Fisher was rejected from the University of Texas at Austin incoming class. Fisher sued the school because she felt she was denied in favor of minority applicants and that her rejection violated the U.S. Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Fisher argued the university’s admission policy did not survive strict scrutiny as required by Grutter v. Bollinger, while UT at Austin claimed its admissions policy is similar to the policy upheld in Grutter.

Grutter v. Bollinger was a case decided by SCOTUS in 2002 that said the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit schools from using race as a factor in admissions policies as a means to create a more diverse student body.

The case made its way to SCOTUS, and on June 24, the court ruled, 7-1, that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment allowed for race to be considered as a factor in collegiate undergraduate admissions.

OSU considers three primary factors in admissions – completion of a minimum college preparatory curriculum during high school, performance in high school based on class rank or grade point average and performance on the ACT or SAT, according to the OSU Undergraduate Admissions website.

After those three factors, additional consideration is given to students who took accelerated courses, who are first-generation college students or who provide “cultural, economic, racial, or geographic diversity,” among multiple other factors, according to the Undergraduate Admissions website.

As of Autumn Semester 2012, minorities made up more than 16 percent of the OSU Columbus campus’ total enrollment, which was 56,387 students that semester, according to the OSU Statistical Summary website.

OSU reviewed its policies in light of the ruling, reporting that its standards were in line with the court’s decision. Then-Executive Vice President and Provost Joseph Alutto issued a statement to OSU faculty, staff and students a few days after the June 24 SCOTUS decision.

“Based on Ohio State’s own careful review of the ruling, I am pleased to report that the Supreme Court, in a 7-1 vote, has reaffirmed that achieving the educational benefits of student body diversity is a compelling interest for institutions of higher education across the country,” Alutto said. “Moving forward, we will continue to conduct comprehensive reviews of our efforts, building on our broad range of strategies and, so, fulfilling our responsibility as a land-grant university to provide the broadest possible opportunities for student access and achievement.”

OSU Director of Admissions Vern Granger said OSU’s policies are based on the SCOTUS Grutter ruling.

“The important things for us is it’s fair, it’s consistent and it meets a policy established by Grutter,” Granger said.

He said the Supreme Court Fisher decision will not significantly alter the admissions standards.

“It just re-established the importance of diversity and all of the benefits that it has for the student body,” Granger said. “It showed that there is a compelling interest in diversity (in) higher education.”

The admission policy is reviewed annually by a group made up of people from various OSU offices, including the Undergraduate Admissions office and the Office of Enrollment Services Analysis & Reporting, to reaffirm that the policy meets the standards of the Grutter decision, Granger said.

He said the meeting generally happens sometime in early fall, and this year shouldn’t be any different.

“There probably aren’t going to be any major changes to our policy,” Granger said. “The only thing (the Fisher ruling) does is it reaffirms a lot of our policies that we have now.”

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