With Affirmative Action In College Admissions Back On The Table, Will CU Boulder’s Approach Withstand Scrutiny?

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Photo: AC Affirmative Action
The University of Colorado Boulder searched for alternatives to race as a factor in admissions in the face of a ballot initiative in 2008.

Affirmative action policies on college campuses are under scrutiny again, after reports the Trump administration may investigate whether white applicants are being discriminated against. The University of Colorado Boulder has previously faced the prospect of limiting race as a factor in admissions; in 2008, Amendment 46 went before Colorado voters -- it would have prohibited discrimination or preferential treatment by the state in public employment and education.

Faced with the possibility of being unable to use race as a determining factor in admissions, the university crafted a policy using what it calls race-neutral considerations, such socioeconomic disadvantages, that could impact a student's potential to be accepted at CU. Based on the level of those considerations, the applicant might be given an "admissions boost," to assist his or her acceptance.

Patrick O'Rourke, vice president and university counsel for the CU system, and Matthew Gaertner, a research scientist who helped develop the admission policies, spoke with Colorado Matters host Nathan Heffel.