FIRST ON FOX: GOP Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Calif., is pushing for universities to make their use of personality tests in college admissions public following a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision effectively shutting down affirmative action in university admissions.
The new bill – titled the Helping Applicants Receive Valid and Reasonable Decisions (HARVARD) Act – is set to be introduced just one day after the opinion was released. The bill will require schools that receive federal financial aid to make their use of personality tests in admissions public by posting them on a public website along with their application materials.
The bill text defined “personality traits” as “patterns of such individual with respect to behaviors, thoughts, and emotions, and may include patterns relating to humor, sensitivity, grit, leadership, integrity, helpfulness, courage, and kindness.”
“While the Supreme Court put an end to universities’ discriminatory quota system this week, many schools may still use arbitrary personality assessments that have been used to disadvantage Asian American students in the admissions process,” Steel said in a statement. “I am introducing the HARVARD Act to shine a light on this process and ensure that all students and their families are fully aware of which schools are using these tests, the metrics used, and the rational for these personality traits. Students deserve the right to pursue their full potential without fear of prejudice based on the color of their skin.”
The HARVARD Act was initially introduced by Steel in late April 2022 after the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases against U.S. colleges, Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), for allegedly “penalizing Asian American applicants” and using “race as a factor in admissions.” The Supreme Court ruled in the cases Thursday, rejecting the use of race as a factor in college admissions as a violation of the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause.
The bill would require applicants to be provided a statement outlining the use of personality traits in the admissions process as well as “the rationale for such use of personality traits.” The process under which the traits would be considered would also be detailed and the “standards and criteria” used to rate the applicants’ personality traits.
Steel, who immigrated to the U.S. from South Korea at the age of 19, has been a vocal advocate for eliminating racial preferences in education, previously campaigning for California’s Prop 209 in 1996, which banned racial preferences in hiring, education and contracting.
The GOP representative applauded the court’s decision Thursday, calling it “a new chapter in the fight for equality in education.”
“As a nation, we believe, as taught by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that every human should be judged ‘not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,’” Steel told Fox News Digital in a statement shortly after the decision was handed down. “Thanks to the brave young men and women who spoke up about their experiences with racial discrimination, today’s victory marks a new chapter in the fight for equality in education.”
Students for Fair Admissions, a student activist group, brought cases against both Harvard and the University of North Carolina. The group initially sued Harvard College in 2014 for violating Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in any program or activity that receives Federal funds or other Federal financial assistance.”
The North Carolina case raised the issue of whether the university could reject the use of non-race-based practices without showing that they would bring down the school’s academic quality or negatively impact the benefits gained from campus diversity.
In a 6-3 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the majority opinion that, “A benefit to a student who overcame racial discrimination, for example, must be tied to that student’s courage and determination.”
Both universities responded to the Supreme Court’s ruling Thursday, with Harvard and UNC clarifying they would comply with the decision moving forward.
Harvard’s leadership wrote in a public statement that “diversity and difference are essential to academic excellence,” and vowed to “preserve” the university’s essential values.” The statement also highlighted a potential route by which Harvard could continue to account for race in admissions in some form.
UNC released a statement in response to the ruling, clarifying the university would “take any steps necessary to comply with the law” despite not receiving its expected outcome.
UNC’s Board of Trustees Chair David L. Boliek Jr. also stated the university was ready to comply with the Court’s ruling ensuring America’s “oldest public university to keep leading.”
Fox News’ Brianna Herlihy and Anders Hagstrom contributed to this report.