The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Medicine will not consider race or national origin as a factor in its admissions process, according to an agreement the school entered with the Department of Education in February.
The agreement concludes a 14-year-long investigation into the school’s use of affirmative action in its admissions process after someone who did not end up applying to the school filed a complaint with the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights in 2004. The Department of Education’s office began the investigation in July 2005, according to department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill.
The agreement states that the school of medicine will stop considering race and/or national origin “as part of the holistic admissions process.” If the school decides to use race as a factor in the admissions process again, it must notify the Department of Education and provide a “reasoned, principled explanation” for why it plans to do so, according to the agreement.
The complainant said that the Texas Tech School of Medicine’s “expected use of race as one of many factors in the admissions process” was a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to a letter from the Department of Education obtained by CNN.
The Department of Education conducted interviews at the school in 2016, but had not conducted any follow-up interviews to collect additional information since, Texas Tech University System Vice Chancellor and General Counsel Eric Bentley wrote in a letter. The Department of Education sent the school the proposed agreement in November 2018, according to Bentley. Education spokeswoman Hill said the school requested an agreement prior to the conclusion of the department’s investigation.
A 2016 Supreme Court decision, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, established a new standard for using affirmative action in the college admissions process while upholding Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The case’s conclusion stated that affirmative action could be used in admissions if the school’s use of the policy could withstand strict scrutiny, according to the agreement.
Bentley wrote in the letter that he believed Texas Tech’s School of Medicine “is in compliance with the Fisher standard” but that the school would enter into the agreement “in an effort to resolve this matter and focus on educating future health care professionals.”
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 Sept. 1, 2019, according to Hill.
The agreement was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal.