Texas Minority Groups Seek Continuation of Admissions Policy
Eliminating Texas’ race-neutral college admissions law often touted by President Bush would be detrimental to the diversity of the state’s colleges and universities, two minority groups argued last month.
Some state lawmakers say they plan to repeal Texas’ top 10 percent law, which allows automatic admission to students in the top 10 percent of their high school classes. The law was instituted in 1997 to help diversify campuses at a time when universities were banned from using race as a factor in admissions.
But some legislators say the law is no longer necessary following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that allows race to be considered.
The Texas NAACP and the League of United Latin American Citizens last month called on Gov. Rick Perry to maintain the top 10 percent measure.
“One must wonder if the top 10 percent plan were eliminated, whether we would return to the old days where the numbers of minorities on campus were scholarship athletes,” wrote Texas NAACP president Gary Bledsoe and Margaret Moran, LULAC state director, in a joint letter to Perry.
“The governor certainly believes the top 10 percent rule has had a positive effect. However, he believes it may be time for the Legislature to revisit it,” Perry spokesman Robert Black said.
Perry has concerns that the law may have the unintended consequence of sending many qualified students to out-of-state schools because in-state universities are filled, Black said.
When the law was passed, supporters believed it would eliminate discrimination in the admissions process and diversify campuses without giving preference to any race.
The legislation was supported by Democrats and Republicans, including Bush when he was governor.
State Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, sought unsuccessfully to repeal the law last year.
UT-Austin President Larry Faulkner has called for a cap on the number of students admitted under the top 10 percent rule. He says the law hampers the number of students the university can admit based on factors other than grades. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst also has said that the law should be revised to cap the number of slots reserved for top 10 percent graduates.
Texas colleges and universities are “more diverse than they’ve ever been” under the law, Bledsoe said, noting that the law has opened the door for White students from rural areas as well as minority students.
This year’s class of freshman at the University of Texas at Austin was the most diverse in the university’s history, with White students making up less than 60 percent.
In the year since the Supreme Court ruled on two University of Michigan cases, the University of Texas System has decided to begin using race as one of many factors in admission considerations. Rice University, Texas Tech University and the University of North Texas will begin considering race as a factor.
But Texas A&M decided not to factor race into admissions policies (see Black Issues, Jan. 1). A&M has attempted to expand outreach and financial aid, and expects minority enrollment increases next fall.
— Associated Press
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