UNC-Chapel Hill Bans Consideration of Race in Hiring, Admissions Essays

The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed the policy after losing a U.S. Supreme Court case that considered a student's race in admissions.
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Published on August 3, 2023
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  • The UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees passed the resolution July 27.
  • Trustee Ralph Meekins dissented, saying the university should consult its legal team before banning race considerations in hiring.
  • The university backed the resolution, citing several legislations like Article I of the Constitution, Title IX, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • UNC-Chapel Hill will also no longer consider race in applicants' admissions essays.

Less than one month after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the University of North Carolina's use of race in admissions, its board of trustees voted to ban consideration of race in admissions and all hiring decisions.

As a result of the court's June 29 ruling on affirmative action, colleges must remain race-neutral when making admissions decisions. However, in its majority decision, the court said students could discuss race as one defining factor in their lives in their application essays.

But the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) Board of Trustees on July 27 went one step further, banning consideration of race in student admissions essays and in the flagship public institution's hiring practices.

The move makes UNC-Chapel Hill one of the first universities to ban affirmative action in hiring as a result of the Supreme Court decision.

The board passed the resolution establishing this practice in hiring despite one member dissenting over warnings of potential legal action against the university. The resolution added language to an earlier version asserting that the university cannot express race-based preferences in application essays in hiring or admissions.

The board's resolution "concerning civil rights" states that "The University shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in its hiring and contracting … "

The board cites several legislative documents it says supports the decision:

  • Article I of the U.S. Constitution, which states that North Carolina citizens have the right to "enjoy the fruits of their own labor" without unreasonable government interference
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination based on "race, color, religion, sex, or national origin, such that discrimination on the basis of gender and race in hiring, promoting, and firing violates the laws of the United States"
  • The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which states in part that no state can deny any person equal protection of laws
  • Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on gender

The resolution passed with all ayes — but one. The lone dissenter, Trustee Ralph Meekins, said that the resolution could have legal implications the university does not know about.

"I know, for a fact, that there are, that this resolution goes well beyond the Supreme Court ruling, and if you talk to any lawyer, they'll tell you the same," Meekins said at a trust board meeting. "I have a lot of reasons why I'm against this resolution, but before we even get to that point, I implore each of us to consider that and not vote on this until you've talked to your legal team."