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Monday, June 27, 2022

Legal group challenges UW-Madison admissions policy

The University of Wisconsin-Madison could face legal action against its “holistic” admissions policy from Project on Fair Representation, the Virginia-based legal group behind the June 2013 U.S. Supreme Court case, Fisher vs. University of Texas-Austin.

POFR announced Monday it is seeking applicants that believe they were rejected admission to UW-Madison because of their race to join potential legal action against the university. The group started similar campaigns to at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and Harvard University.

The new initiative is similar to the Fisher case, which focused on UT-Austin applicant Abigail Fisher who sued the university after being denied admission, which she felt was because of her race.

POFR Director Edward Blum said the group targets universities with admissions policies that classify applicants based on race and then treat people differently based on race.

“If [UW-Madison] wants to lower the bar in order to create a diverse student body, we think that that bar should be lowered for everyone who comes from a disadvantaged background, or a lower socioeconomic environment,” Blum said.

Paul DeLuca, UW-Madison’s provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs, defended the university’s admissions policy in a statement, saying the “holistic” policy takes many factors into account to admit applicants, including academic credentials, which he deems as the most important factor. However, he also said academic credentials do not always predict “classroom success,” which he said is the reason UW-Madison reviews an applicant’s entire record when deciding upon admission.

“No student is accepted solely due to any non-academic factor. Every student offered a place at this university is judged to be capable of success,” DeLuca said in the statement. “We have reviewed our policies in the wake of the Fisher, Gratz and Grutter decisions and believe this approach is appropriate and consistent with the law.”

Blum disagrees, claiming UW-Madison’s “holistic” approach violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2013 Fisher decision. He added the group will “likely bring a legal challenge” to the university’s policy once they have collected a “a reasonable pool of credible applicants.”

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