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Colleges Are Bracing for a Court Decision on Affirmative Action. Here’s What Princeton’s President Is Doing to Prepare.

By Susan Snyder:

The U.S. Supreme Court this spring is expected to issue a ruling that could ban or alter how local universities consider race when deciding whether to admit students.

Previous cases have ended with colleges still allowed to factor in a student’s race in efforts to build a diverse student body — a practice upheld for more than 40 years.

But this is a more conservative court, and colleges that have long championed affirmative action are bracing for the decision and what it might mean for their admission process.

We sat down with Christopher L. Eisgruber, constitutional law scholar and president of Princeton for nearly a decade, to ask how the Ivy League university is preparing.

At Princeton — where about 23% of undergraduates are Asian American, 8% are African American and 10% Hispanic, while 6.8% are multiracial and 12% are international — Eisgruber said that ensuring a diverse student body was essential to its mission. If the Supreme Court rules the school cannot consider race, “that will make our jobs harder.”

“It would be great if one could get that diversity without using the tools of affirmative action, but frankly ... we’re still in a society where race makes a difference when you’re talking about health care, ...when you’re talking about the job market, ...when you’re talking about education,” he said. “And therefore, it makes a difference when you’re thinking about whom to admit to a university.”

Princeton, too, has faced scrutiny when it comes to admissions: After a complaint was filed that it was discriminating against Asian and Asian American students in admissions, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights investigated, and in 2015 announced it found insufficient evidence to support the claim.

Read the interview in The Philadelphia Inquirer.