COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
The University of Missouri tells ABC 17 News it does not plan to change it's policy on race-based scholarships and admissions despite pushback from lawmakers.
Lawmakers from both sides are sending recommendations from Washington, D.C., to Columbia on how they believe the University of Missouri should handle the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on race-based admissions and scholarships.
Missouri Democratic Emanuel Cleaver and Cori Bush sent a letter earlier this month urging the university to reinstate race-based scholarships and emphasize the recruitment of minorities. In response, Missouri Republican Sen. Eric Schmitt and Reps. Mark Alford and Eric Burlison sent a letter urging the university to ignore the Democrats' request.
In June, SCOTUS ruled on two cases: Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard and Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. v. University of North Carolina. That ruling determined that colleges and universities can not consider an individual's race during the admissions process, claiming it violates the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Because of this ruling, all private and public universities that receive federal financial assistance must not use race as a factor for consideration of admissions or scholarships.
Following the decision, the University of Missouri System announced it would no longer offer scholarships with race-based prerequisites or use race as a consideration for admission to graduate programs.
MU spokesman Christian Basi said the decision was made based on an interpretation of the ruling from legal counsel and the Missouri Attorney General.
"We don't anticipate making any changes to those decisions in the near future," Basi said.
Cleaver and Bush argue in their letter that the MU System's interpretation of the law was rushed.
"The University of Missouri System can and should consider the ways that a student’s lived experience would benefit their contributions to campus and how it can impact their ability to access higher education in the first place,” Cleaver and Bush wrote in their letter.
In an interview with ABC 17 News, Cleaver said he's worried the new policy will lead to a brain drain effect for the state.
"African Americans and Hispanic Americans are going to eventually -- and it's already begun -- move out of the state, going to schools elsewhere, because there does not appear to be an effort -- at least on the part of the trustees -- to go after and recruit black and brown students," Cleaver said.
In their letter, the Republicans countered that sentiment, "To revert back to putting an applicant’s race in the evaluated criteria for the admissions process would not just go against the Supreme Court’s decision, but it would tell potential students that what they look like is just as important as how prepared they are to go to college."
In June, Basi said that fewer than two dozen graduate programs at the Columbia campus used race as a factor in admission decisions.