NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

College Admissions Officials Pursue Sly Strategy to Promote Racial Diversity

December 9, 2002

The U.S. Supreme Court intends to hear two cases next year challenging racial preferences in admissions at the University of Michigan. A number of colleges and universities across the land are already preparing for a decision that would place strict restrictions on affirmative action policies.

  • They are doing so by avoiding using words like "black," "African-American," "Latino," "Hispanic," or even "minority" in their admissions deliberations.
  • Instead, with an undisguised wink, admissions officers like those at Rice University are encouraging applicants to discuss "cultural traditions" in their essays.
  • They ask if the applicant speaks English as a second language and take note of those who identify themselves as presidents of their black student associations.
  • Such efforts are combined with stepped-up recruiting at high schools with high minority populations.

Critics of these tactics report that admissions committees at many of the nation's colleges are fiercely committed to having racially diverse student bodies and they won't allow low scores on entrance exams or court decisions to stand in their way.

Source: Jacques Steinberg, "Using Synonyms for Race, Colleges Strive for Diversity," New York Times, December 8, 2002.

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