President Obama's guidelines, put forward in 2011 and 2016, encouraged schools to embrace diversity by presenting them with legal recommendations on how to "avoid racial isolation" in their picking of potential students based on the then administration's interpretation of key Supreme Court affirmative action cases.
The Trump administration's announcement is more in line with Bush-era policy that discouraged affirmative action and instead encouraged the use of race-neutral alternatives, like percentage plans and economic diversity programs.
The shift gives schools and colleges the federal government's blessing to leave race out of admissions and enrollment decisions and underscores the contentious politics that for decades have surrounded affirmation action policies, which have repeatedly been challenged before the Supreme Court.
Mr. Arcidiacono found that an otherwise identical applicant bearing an Asian-American male identity with a 25 percent chance of admission would have a 32 percent chance of admission if he were white, a 77 percent chance of admission if he were Hispanic, and a 95 percent chance of admission if he were black.
But Anurima Bhargava, who monitored civil rights enforcement in schools under Obama's Justice Department says that the Trump administration is just trying to decrease diversity in higher education. "Any Supreme Court nominee needs to be asked if they support precedent related to affirmative action". In April, the department, headed by Betsy DeVos, implemented new guidelines that allowed civil rights investigations to be closed if they were considered "too burdensome " to investigate. The departments wrote a "Dear Colleague" letter to announce the withdrawal of seven documents released during the Obama administration that laid out the legal framework for the affirmative action policies.
The high court's most recent significant ruling on the subject bolstered colleges' use of race among many factors in the college admission process.
The expected reversal comes as the U.S. Justice Department considers a case about whether Harvard University is illegally discriminating against Asian-American students by limiting the number it accepts.
The Trump administration's move does not change the law on affirmative action. Blum said Tuesday the organization "welcomes any governmental actions that will eliminate racial classifications and preferences in college admissions". "We still have all of the Supreme Court rulings that would influence how we handle this". "It is more evidence that the Trump administration is skeptical about race-based decision-making in admissions and in other contexts".
"Last year, the Attorney General initiated a review of guidance documents, which resulted in dozens of examples - including today's second tranche of rescissions - of documents that go beyond or are inconsistent with the Constitution and federal law", spokesman Devin O'Malley told the network.
"Harvard will continue to vigorously defend our right, and that of other colleges and universities nationwide, to seek the educational benefits that come from a class that is diverse on multiple dimensions", the institution said. It went on to assert that schools have flexibility "to take proactive steps, in a manner consistent with principles articulated in Supreme Court opinions, to meet this compelling interest".