Last year, 15 universities comprising the University of North Carolina system (excluding the N.C. School of the Arts) received $123.6 million in what are known as “overhead receipts” from federal research grants. That money, which the UNC system prefers to call “facilities and administrative receipts,” is money given on top of the actual grant amount that is intended to defray the administrative and institutional costs in conducting the actual research.
Beyond the publicity-seeking protests and the condescending “teach-ins,” the effects of the war on terror and the aftermath of Sept. 11 on universities have been subtle but significant. In some respects, universities have been asked to contribute to U.S. security efforts in ways other sectors could not.
All eyes are on Michigan now, thanks to a case before the Supreme Court involving the University of Michigan Law Schools’ use of racial preferences in admissions decisions. It is a case being watched with extreme interest by N.C. higher-education officials , public and private.
In late February a federal commission released its final report on recommendations on reforming the enforcement of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Entitled “‘Open to All’: Title IX at Thirty,” the Secretary of Education’s Commission on Opportunity in Athletics praises the legislation for expanding athletic opportunities for women but criticizes how enforcement has led to the elimination of opportunities for men.
The litigation over race-based admissions policies is probably the most important case the Supreme Court will decide in its current term. Those who think that it’s somehow progress for government institutions to treat classes of individuals differently because of their ancestry are pulling out all the stops to defend race-based admissions policies, including an intellectually dishonest argument that diversity enhances education and cries that the sky will fall if schools like the University of Michigan can’t stack the deck in favor of applicants in certain groups. Here are a few thoughts on this momentous case.
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 purports to guarantee nondiscrimination in education. Nevertheless, it has been subject to a succession of bureaucratic “interpretations” that have practically twisted it into the legal trappings of a quota system. It may now be poised for reform.
By next June the nation’s highest court could finally issue a much-needed clarification of the constitutionality of using racial considerations in college admissions decisions. The Supreme Court took up two cases in which white applicants argued that their applications to the University of Michigan and its law school were turned down because of their race.
The recent ruling (now on hold) by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to declare the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional and therefore not fit for public schools is just one of the bewildering changes taking place in our public schools. At this moment, maybe it’s time to take stock of what is — and what isn’t — allowed nowadays.
The stage is set for the Supreme Court to tackle that thorniest of issues, the legality of racial preferences in college admissions. All that remains is for the Court to decide to review the case.
Just from reading the preamble to Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, one would not suspect it was the preamble to 30 years’ of controversy, fights over interpretation, compliance tests, and the noxious slew of bureaucratic miasma that followed: “No person in the U.S. shall, on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in, or denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving federal aid.”