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Title: The perception and awareness of conflicting legal guidance concerning affirmative action admissions practices at two institutions of higher education in California
Author: Linares, R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7428 443X
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2017
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Affirmative action in college admissions is a contentious topic which has inspired a significant amount of legislation affecting its use. This legislation exists independently at the state and federal levels, but when viewed together within the entire legislative framework, individual pieces of legislation contradict each other, providing confusing and conflicting legal guidance for higher education admissions counselors. Admissions counselors’ daily activities are governed by this legislation, but without a high level of knowledge or awareness, admissions counselors could unknowingly engage in recruiting activities that violate one or more aspects of the related legislation. This study investigated the current level of knowledge in higher education admissions counselors at two public universities in the state of California regarding the conflicting legislation affecting the use of race-conscious admissions practices. This is important because the use of race-conscious admissions practices is the most divisive issue currently facing the American higher education system, and can have significant legal ramifications for institutions of higher education. While previous research has identified the effects of race-conscious admissions practices, it did not sufficiently identify the current legislation affecting the use of race-conscious admissions practices, the conflicting nature of the legislation, or the perception or awareness of the admissions counselors of the conflicting nature of the current legislation. This study, therefore, aims to determine the perspective of the higher education admissions counselor, the overall level of awareness and knowledge regarding the multiple pieces and layers of legislation, and the level of awareness for the conflicting legal guidance created when the legislation is viewed as a whole. This research has the objective to better understand the individual pieces of legislation, their individual affects, and when combined, the nature of their conflicting guidance. To achieve this, in-depth, individual interviews were conducted with higher education admissions counselors at two public institutions located within the state of California. Conventional content analysis was used to analyze the multiple perspectives found within the primary data and illustrate the overarching themes expressed within the data. The findings indicate that admissions counselors claim to have a low level of awareness and knowledge concerning the legislation affecting race-conscious admissions practices. Once they were provided a basic overview of the legislation, though, interviewees were able to discern that the legislation provided conflicting guidance. Additional findings suggest that admissions counselors do not fundamentally agree with the admissions practices that they follow, but are still adhering to the practices in spite of this. The research concludes by recommending areas for further research, and suggesting specific actions that can be pursued as a means of implementing the knowledge created through this research.
Supervisor: Meiszner, Andreas ; Higgins, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.B.A.) Qualification Level: Doctoral