Naked City

UT Revives Affirmative Action

"Hopwood is dead," said UT Law School Associate Dean Douglas Laycock Monday following the announcement of the 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the affirmative-action plan used by the Univ. of Michigan Law School. He referred to the 1996 Hopwood decision of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that had effectively ended affirmative action at UT.

The Supreme Court ruled that as long as the goal of racial diversity is not used mechanically or numerically, but as part of a "holistic" evaluation for admissions, such programs are permissible. In a separate opinion, the court ruled that a point-based undergraduate Michigan admissions program is illegal. Both Laycock and UT President Larry Faulkner said that in its admissions for 2005-2006, the school would install affirmative-action programs that meet the court's guidelines. He said the school already evaluates "holistically" some 12,000 undergraduate applications and would not need to add staff to establish a new program.

The Legislature has since enacted a "Top 10%" program to help boost minority enrollment, by guaranteeing a UT spot for any student who ranks in the Top 10% of his or her high school class. Administrators have asked lawmakers to consider a cap on those admissions, because roughly 75% of the 2004 freshman class, and a projected 90% of the 2005 class, is likely to be automatically admitted under the law.

"We would like to keep it more in the range of 50 to 60%," said Faulkner, "because we think it's unhealthy to have so many students admitted on the basis of a single criterion. We hope that the decision of the court will make legislators more willing to revisit this issue."

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