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UVa changes admissions practices in wake of affirmative action ruling

The University of Virginia has changed its admissions practices a little more than a month after the Supreme Court overturned affirmative action, effectively ending 50 years of race-conscious admissions at colleges nationwide.

Gone are the checkboxes for race and ethnicity on prospective students’ applications, the college announced Tuesday.

Instead, the latest version of the application, also released Tuesday, will include an essay prompt “that provides an opportunity for students to describe their experiences, including but not limited to their experiences of race or ethnicity, and the ways in which those experiences have shaped their ability to contribute,” according to a joint statement from UVa President Jim Ryan and Provost Ian Baucom.

Although the Supreme Court decision did not touch legacy admissions, UVa applications will also now include an optional essay prompt regarding a prospective student’s relationship with the university and how that experience has prepared them to contribute as an individual at the school.

“We hope this prompt will give all students — not only, for example, the children of our graduates, but also the descendants of ancestors who labored at the University, as well as those with other relationships — the chance to tell their unique stories,” Ryan and Baucom’s statement reads.

The new essay prompts were developed with input from UVa leadership and the Office of University Counsel, which represents the rector and Board of Visitors at the University of Virginia in all legal and regulatory matters and provides advice and counsel to the board, the president, executive officers and other administrators, faculty and staff.

“To the extent a candidate’s race or ethnicity is disclosed through this process, that information only will be considered as it relates to that person’s unique ability as an individual to contribute to the university, and not on the basis of race or ethnicity alone,” according to Ryan and Baucom’s statement.

Ryan and Baucom said they are fully committed to offering admissions to those “academically qualified.”

“At the most basic level, our goal remains doing our best to understand each applicant as a person, and to evaluate the unique path that led them to apply to UVa,” their statement says. “Understanding each story will enable us to offer admission to students who will thrive here and who will contribute to the experience of those around them.”


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