Following the passage of a ballot measure banning the use of affirmative action in Oklahoma, the state's colleges and universities are assessing their programs to see where changes need to be made.
Oklahoma State Question 759 amends the state constitution to ban preferential treatment in state agencies, including public colleges and universities, based on race, gender, ethnicity or national origin.
The measure approved Tuesday is expected to have limited impact on college admissions in the state. Oklahoma's public colleges and universities don't use race as a factor in admissions but encourage campus diversity through other means, including marketing and recruiting practices.
The new law will reach beyond admissions practices, potentially affecting areas such as campus programs and employment.
“We don't think it will have a significant impact,” said Anil Gollahalli, general counsel for the University of Oklahoma.
By not taking race into account in admissions, Gollahalli said, OU eliminates the largest area where questions could arise. The university also doesn't administer state-funded scholarships based on race or gender.
The OU Foundation — a private nonprofit organization — administers a few privately funded scholarships based on race or gender, Gollahalli said. OU officials will review those scholarships to make sure the university doesn't have a role in the programs the new amendment would prohibit.
OU officials are looking at other areas that might be an issue, Gollahalli said. Most of the activities on campus are race and gender neutral, he said, but university officials won't know what changes will need to be made until the review process is over.
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