UT Knoxville Says Anti Preference Bill Would Be 'Lawyer's Dream'

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Tennessee’s institutions of higher education are still trying to scuttle legislative tweaks to their admissions and hiring processes. A proposed law intended to make sure no preference is shown on the basis of race or gender was again delayed in a state Senate committee.

Universities are worried about the possibly broad interpretation of what “preference” could mean.

University of Tennessee Vice President for Government Relations and Advocacy Anthony Haynes says it could become a “lawyer’s dream” for the thousands who are denied entry each year.

“All of a sudden your entire admissions process is coming under the gun and trying to defend every single decision, unnecessarily,” he says.

Haynes asked that colleges just get the “benefit of the doubt” that their admissions processes are sound.

Federal law already restricts universities from making decisions based solely on race or gender. While most of the debate has been about admissions and hiring, the most tangible effect would be in contracting.

Present law allows institutions to save 10 percent of their service contracts for small and minority-owned businesses. The anti-preference bill would remove this provision.

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