Texas A&M Ends Legacy ProgramCOLLEGE STATION, Texas
Texas A&M University’s president said earlier this month that the school will no longer give preference to applicants whose parents or grandparents were graduates.
A group of state lawmakers had criticized the legacy program, and representatives of state civil rights groups indicated they would file suit against the school if the policy didn’t change.
A&M President Robert Gates told the Associated Press that the threat of litigation played no role in his decision to eliminate the policy immediately, though criticism was a factor in the timing.
“What I’ve seen in the media this week certainly reinforced the belief that I had to act quickly,” Gates said, “but I’d say the train was already out of the station.”
Gates said he initially believed the university had more time to deal with the legacy program, which was recognized as a problem by November, and that he takes “full responsibility” for any negative publicity to A&M.
Gates said the policy played less of a role in admissions than many believed, and that university officials would continue to encourage students from Aggie families to apply.
Typically, anywhere from 1,650 to more than 2,000 A&M applicants a year received legacy points, usually 4 points on a 100-point scale that also takes into account such factors as class rank, test scores, extracurricular activities and community service.
The school admitted last year that more than 300 students were accepted through the legacy program who would not have qualified otherwise. The state NAACP president called the program discriminatory because Blacks did not attend Texas A&M until 1963, negating the “legacy” of many minority applicants.
Gary Bledsoe, the NAACP leader, said scrapping the program was a good first step, but that the university must do much more to meet its responsibilities.
“It has already caused a great deal of harm and disadvantage to minorities around the state, and if you couple with that the woefully inadequate number of minorities at A&M, you have to be concerned if there is indeed an honest desire at Texas A&M to have African Americans in attendance, except on the playing fields,” he said.
Last fall, 82 percent of A&M’s undergraduates were White, 2 percent were Black, 9 percent were Hispanic and 3 percent were Asian American.
Gates has promised lawmakers he will lead a charge to increase minority enrollment, despite the university’s decision to leave race out of admissions decision, which was announced last month (see Black Issues, Jan. 1. 2004).
— Associated Press
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