UT Ready to Bring Back Race
According to a press release received shortly before press time, "The use of race and ethnicity as factors in the admission process is essential, according to the proposal, because race-neutral policies" -- that is, the Top 10% plan, which admitted any freshman in the top 10% of his or her high school class -- "alone have failed to produce a critical mass of minority students at the classroom level." Such a "critical mass," the university says, "provides a learning environment with exposure to diverse ideas and cultures that better prepares students for leadership in an increasingly global and multicultural society."
State law requires public hearings before modifying admissions factors, so the policy, if passed, cannot be implemented earlier than 2005. Under the proposal, the UT School of Law -- whose former admissions policies were thrown out by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998's infamous Hopwood decision, which the Supremes basically overruled in deciding the Michigan case -- would implement "modest consideration of race," but will not return to the practice of putting minority applicants on separate admissions tracks.
As evidence of the lack of "critical mass" of minority students, UT-Austin presented the following statistics from a study of fall 2002 enrollments:
52% of classes had no African-Americans and 79% had one or none;
12% had no Hispanics and 30% had one or none;
16% had no Asian-Americans and 33% had one or none;
1% had no whites and 1% had one or none.
In smaller classes (less than 25 students), the diversity numbers were, naturally, even worse:
65% had no African-Americans and 90% had one or none;
18% had no Hispanics and 43% had one or none;
23% had no Asian-Americans and 46% had one or none;
1% had no whites and 2% had one or none.
Said UT-Austin President Larry R. Faulkner, "The proposal to include race among the many factors in admission is central to this university's primary mission of educating leaders for the future. Students here are currently in a less-than-realistic environment. To prepare future leaders adequately, the university must include and educate a critical mass of students from historically underrepresented segments of the Texas population."