The agreement marks the first time the Trump administration has requested that a school limit its affirmative-action practices, but the Education Department's Office for Civil Rights has ongoing investigations into whether Asian-American applicants to Yale and Harvard are being discriminated against.
The school planned to inform all staff to discontinue consideration of race and national origin in admission in a memo by March 1, 2019, per the agreement, and by removing references to race and national origin as admissions factors in university materials by September 1, 2019, according to Hill.
Eric Bentley, vice chancellor and general counsel of the Texas Tech University System, said in an agreement letter that the medical school is "committed to exploring race-neutral alternatives to enhancing diversity".
The action is the first of its kind by Betsy DeVos' Education Department and signals the approach the agency will take with other schools. Way back in 2004, someone filed a complaint with the DoE's Office of Civil Rights, alleging that TTU used race as part of its admissions process and that this was in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
U.S. Commission on Civil Rights Chairwoman Catherine Lhamon, who previously served as assistant secretary for civil rights in President Obama's Education Department, blasted this outcome as evidence that the Trump administration is actively trying to discourage the use of race in university admissions.
Last year, the Justice Department reversed a set of 24 Obama-era guidelines, including promoting the use of race in admissions standards to achieve diversity in schools. The change is the first time President Donald Trump's administration has pushed a school to end this practice since it began efforts past year to chip away at affirmative action policies. Fisher challenged the school's affirmative action and automatic admissions policies.
The Supreme Court heard Fisher v. Texas twice, reaffirming the practice of race as an admissions factor in a 4-3 decision in 2016. If the university wants to consider race in admissions in the future, it will have to ensure that it "provides a reasoned, principled explanation for its decision and identifies concrete and precise goals", and that "no undue burden is imposed on applicants of any racial group".
Texas Tech's use of affirmative action had beneficial effects on the makeup of its medical students. The medical school argued it must continue weighing race in admissions because doctors from various backgrounds can serve Texas' diverse communities.
According to a resolution agreement obtained by the Journal, the medical school did not review on an annual basis whether race-based measures in admissions were necessary.