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The Daily Tar Heel

UNC joins admissions coalition amid lawsuit on fair admissions

The Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success includes both public and private universities.

“One of the things it does is, I think, it sort of demystifies the college application process,” said Steve Orlando, a spokesperson for the University of Florida, a coalition member school.

The coalition gives uniform access to all member universities’ applications and a collaborative portfolio. Orlando said high school students will have access to a coalition portfolio, where they can organize goals and accomplishments, and prepare college application materials during their first year of high school.

He said students will be able to submit applications through the portal directly to member universities, and the ease of applying could stimulate competition.

“While in one way you could look at it as being more competitive, I think it’ll actually open more doors to them in the long run,” he said.

Orlando said the tools on the website will be available in January. The coalition’s application will open in summer 2016.

Students for Fair Admissions, Inc. filed a lawsuit against UNC, saying Asian-American and white students who applied to UNC may have been turned away because of their race. Harvard was also listed in the suit filed last November.

Jim Gregory, a UNC spokesperson, said both parties agreed on gathering limited evidence until Fisher v. University of Texas, which involves a University of Texas applicant challenging the use of race in admissions, is over. Fisher v. University of Texas is being contested by the University of Texas and has been ruled on by the U.S. Supreme Court once. It is set to be reviewed again in October.

“Based off the outcome of the Fisher case, we will be able to determine how it’ll move forward, or whether it’ll move forward,” Gregory said.

Gregory said last week in an email that Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, UNC’s New York-based law firm, is handling the admissions suit for UNC.

However, in the letter sent from the governor’s office confirming Skadden’s hire, the admissions suit is not listed as a case Skadden was authorized to work on.

UNC spokesperson Rick White said UNC later received permission from the governor’s office for Skadden to work on the fair admissions suit.

The Daily Tar Heel has filed a public record request for the confirmation from the governor’s office that has not yet been fulfilled.

Vice Provost for Enrollment and Undergraduate Admissions Steve Farmer said UNC has tried to be affordable and help students succeed.

“We’ve been working for a long time to try to foster opportunity and affordability and success for students,” he said. “So when we saw that there were 80 other schools that seemed to us sincerely interested in doing the same, we thought it would be a group worth joining.”

Joining the coalition, Farmer said, sends a message to young people who may not apply otherwise.

“No matter their background, no matter where they come from, no matter what obstacles they’ve faced, we’re interested in hearing from them and we’re interested in helping them get the next step on their journey.”

Enterprise Director Bradley Saacks contributed reporting.

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