Judge Asked to Stop Georgia From Using Race in Admissions
ATLANTA — University of Georgia President Dr. Michael Adams did not have to wait long for a challenge to his recent decision to keep race as a factor in deciding admissions.
Atlanta attorney Lee Parks, who has battled the university system before over race-based admission policies, asked a federal judge earlier this month to prevent the school from using racial criteria in admitting next year’s freshman class.
Parks filed the motion on behalf of four women who claim they were not admitted because they are White females in connection with a suit he filed in federal court in Savannah in August. The suit claims the school’s admissions practices are unconstitutional by giving preferences to Blacks.
Adams announced last month the school would continue to use race as a factor in 10 percent to 20 percent of admissions for next year’s freshman class.
But state Attorney General Thurbert Baker has said the university has a slim chance of winning its case in court because of the current legal trend to prohibit racial criteria in college admissions.
“It’s not the best use of public tax money,” says Parks. “They’ve gone out now and hired a private law firm to take a case through the system that the attorney general has told them they are not going to win.”
Earlier this year, U.S. District Court Judge B. Avant Edenfield scolded the university system for using racial preferences, saying the school “cannot constitutionally justify the affirmative use of race in its admission decisions.”
But Edenfield did not rule the practice illegal. He dismissed the case, saying the White student suing for admission would not have gotten in even without the racial preferences.
University spokesman Tom Jackson says 80 percent to 90 percent of students are admitted based on grades and SAT scores without regard to race. Race is only one factor among others for the remaining students.
Extra consideration also was given to students whose parents graduated from the university, students from rural areas and men — who made up only 40 percent of this year’s freshman class. In reaction to the lawsuits, Adams has dropped the preference for male students.
Blacks make up about 28 percent of the state population, but only 6 percent of the student body — lower than all but two of the state’s public four-year colleges.
Parks contends that’s proof the university is not really interested in admitting more Black students. The school, he says, gives lip service to diversity, but actually keeps out minorities. The university could admit more Blacks if it gave preference to economic, rather than racial factors, Parks says.
Students Entering Georgia Colleges Better Prepared Academically
MACON, Ga. — Georgia universities are welcoming students who are better prepared academically than any of their predecessors, but the university system has additional work to continue the improvements, a report to the Board of Regents reveals.
Tough admission requirements passed in 1996 are responsible for the improvement, says James Muyskens, senior vice chancellor for academic affairs, who reported the news at a regents meeting at Macon State College earlier this month.
The number of freshmen requiring remedial studies dropped from 36 percent during the 1995-96 school year to 21 percent during the 1998-99 school year. At the same time, the number of freshmen who had not completed the necessary college preparatory courses also dropped from 27 percent to 16 percent, Muyskens says.
The system also recorded a 25-point jump in the average SAT score of all first-time freshmen, which increased from 988 in the fall of 1996 to 1,013 in the fall of 1998.
Regents voted in 1996 to phase out remedial programs at the system’s four-year colleges by fall 2001. The state was spending about $20 million a year on remedial studies for about 25,000 college freshmen.
“The second half of this process,” Muyskens says, “will be even tougher than the first, because we must focus even harder on the poorest-prepared students,” he says.
Under the board’s 2001 admission standards, first-time freshmen will be required to complete a full college-prep curriculum that includes an additional unit of math. Freshmen without the mandatory college-prep curriculum or who require remedial work will no longer be admitted to four-year schools.
Hate Crime Film Debuts
FORT COLLINS, Colo. — The families of three murder victims hope a documentary about hate crimes that debuted earlier this month at Colorado State University will stop violence by educating the nation.
The film, Journey Toward a Hate-Free Millennium, was scheduled to premiere on the one-year anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard, a gay University of Wyoming student who died at a Fort Collins hospital five days after being pistol-whipped and tied to a fence in Laramie, Wyo.
The film also tells the story of James Byrd Jr., a Black man dragged to death by two White supremacists from behind a pickup in Jasper, Texas, in 1998; and of Rachel Scott, 17, a Columbine High School student shot during an April 20 rampage that killed 11 others and injured 23.
Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mother, says she and her husband agreed to participate because the film does not exploit their tragedy. It includes development of an elementary and high school curriculum and a nationwide speaking tour of colleges and universities by one of its producers, Brent Scarpo, 36, of Denver.
The film “came closest to our ideal and the seriousness of the issues we face in society today,” Judy Shepard says. “I’m hoping that we’re doing what Matthew would have wanted us to do — use the voice that Matthew’s death gave us.”
Byrd’s sister, Mylinda Washington, says she supports the film’s premise to help make the next century one free of hate .
“It’s an honor and privilege to be a part of this documentary because it sends a positive, yet powerful message to the world,” she says. “Since this 20th century has been full of atrocities, a hate-free millennium may seem like something impossible, but not yet unattainable.”
Made in Denver with volunteer crews and donated money, the film looks at what motivates violence, shows the diversity of victims and the tragedies that result. The movie also is expected to air soon in theaters in Los Angeles and Portland, Ore.
Purdue Researchers Probe Burial Grounds
DELPHI, Ind. — Purdue University researchers are investigating what are believed to be the remains of up to 10 Woodland Indians found in an ancient burial ground.
The remains were discovered earlier this month when workers began digging to install a septic system for a new house. They uncovered a 30- to 40-foot area containing the nearly intact skeletons.
The workers, as required by law, stopped digging and notified officials with the Department of Natural Resources.
Most of the remains will be turned over to a Native American group indigenous to the area, probably the Miami Indians.
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