- The Washington Times - Monday, December 13, 1999

The University of Virginia discriminates against white and Asian applicants in favor of black and Hispanic applicants in their undergraduate admissions, a conservative Washington-based think tank says in a report to be released Wednesday.
The Center for Equal Opportunity reports that a black applicant’s odds for admittance to the selective university in 1999 were 111 times greater than a white applicant’s odds.
The study follows a January report by the same group that analyzed 1996 data and said that admissions odds for equally qualified white and black applicants were 33 to 1.
“We are even more disturbed by these findings than the January study,” said Roger Clegg, spokesman for the center. “We hope that our finding will persuade [university officials] to end using race and ethnic considerations in their admission policies.”
University officials declined to comment on the report, saying they prefer to see it first.
University spokeswoman Louise Dudley said the university “did take issue” with the January study’s methodology and conclusions.
The Center for Equal Opportunity “omitted important factors in the first report, such as whether applicants were in-state or out-of-state,” she said. “Admission to the university has everything to do with geography and nothing to do with race.”
The university aims to keep its entering freshman class of about 3,000 students at two-thirds in-state students although about two-thirds of all applicants are from out-of-state. Mrs. Dudley also said that half of all black students were in-state.
The new study factored in whether applicants were out-of-state, Mr. Clegg said. The report’s release is the latest challenge to the university’s use of racial preferences and affirmative action that began with the first report’s release in January. The challenge is also one of many faced by universities around the nation as they struggle to maintain diversity within a murky legal framework.
On Wednesday, center president Linda Chavez, former executive director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in the Reagan administration, will release the results of the report. According to a summary, the findings include:
1.) Test scores and high school rankings for black students admitted are much lower than that of white and Asian students accepted.
2.) On average, out-of-state blacks are admitted with substantially lower test scores and high school ranks than are in-state Hispanics, Asians and whites.
Supporters of the university’s admissions policies say that they are necessary to correct 140 years of inequality and keep the university diverse.
“Things are simply not equal in this country,” said Brandon Woods, 18, a black freshman at the university. “You can’t judge minority students by the same measures as white students. The SAT tests are not a good meter of performance or how a student will perform.”
The intense discussion about race-weighted admissions started in January after the center issued its report charging reverse discrimination in Virginia colleges’ admissions policies.
That report prompted the Board of Visitors to consider reforming the admissions process to maintain diversity, but avert legal challenges by dropping race as a factor in admissions decisions. Students, faculty and civil rights groups objected.
The university then began eliminating a scoring system favoring race from the school’s admissions procedures. Officials said that change would not affect the university’s policies of considering race in admissions.
At the same time, the university’s governing board said it was prepared to go to court to defend the school’s use of race in admissions decisions.
The problem is that case law on affirmative action is confusing and contradictory, legal experts say.
State universities in California and Washington have barred affirmative action in admissions by voter referendum. But most U.S. colleges continue to use race as a factor in admissions. The U.S. Supreme Court hasn’t clarified the law, last ruling on admission policies in 1978 by allowing colleges to consider race in admissions.
Since then, a number of lower court rulings have muddied the waters.
In Texas, a federal appeals court told universities they could not use race as a factor in admissions. Two months ago in Virginia, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unconstitutional a race-weighted lottery admissions system at an Arlington magnet school, touching off a new round of concern for the university.
Advocates of the university’s current admissions system say the board’s concerns are premature, since no one has filed a lawsuit challenging the policy.
They deny the university is admitting unqualified students, pointing to graduation rates that run at 87 percent for blacks, who make up 10 percent of the student body, and 93 percent for whites. The school’s graduation rate for blacks is the highest of any public university in the nation.

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