- The Washington Times - Monday, April 29, 2002

Law schools at University of Virginia and the College of William and Mary give overwhelming preference to black applicants over white, Hispanic and Asian students, according to a study released yesterday.
Black students with B-plus undergraduate grades and above-average scores on the standardized Law School Admission Test (LSAT) were 730 times more likely to be admitted to Virginia's law school than an equally qualified white student, according to an analysis of 1999 admissions data. Blacks applying to William and Mary's law school were 170 times more likely to be accepted.
"It is appalling to find such discrimination at public law schools, of all places," said Linda Chavez, president of the Center for Equal Opportunity (CEO), which compiled the report. Based in Northern Virginia, the center opposes affirmative-action practices.
Mrs. Chavez, who was a civil rights adviser to former President Ronald Reagan, yesterday called on the state schools to end their policy of racial discrimination.
"The Constitution and civil rights laws guarantee equal protection and nondiscrimination, yet the state and its law schools ignore these principles," said Mrs. Chavez, who hopes the study will generate political pressure or legal action to make the law schools change their policies.
Officials at both schools said that besides grades, test scores and race, admissions officials look at an applicant's leadership qualities, commitment to public service and difficulty of major.
"They would like us to run admissions by looking at grades and test scores, but it's simply not the way we do it," said William Walker, a spokesman for William and Mary.
He called the report "dull and shallow."
"It's based on a false premise that you can judge human beings by statistical measures alone, grade-point average and the LSAT," Mr. Walker said. "We consider applications in a holistic way."
Black students admitted to Virginia had a 3.45 grade-point average and scored 159 on the LSAT, while white students had a 3.77 grade-point average and got 167 on the test, the report found.
Blacks admitted at William and Mary had a 3.22 grade-point average and an LSAT score of 154, while white students had a 3.47 grade-point average and 163 test score. LSAT scores range from a low of 120 points to a high of 180 points.
Officials at Virginia and at William and Mary law schools said an applicant's race is one of the factors considered by admission officials.
At Virginia, the admissions committee considers many factors, according to its policy. "These include not only intellectual aptitude and academic achievement, but also geographical, racial, ethnic, economic and ideological diversity, as well as individual traits and experiences, such as dedication or a constructive response to adversity, that predict success," the policy reads.
Virginia officials did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the study. But law school Dean John Jeffries told the Associated Press the school "makes no apologies for it."
"We think that's the best way to put together a class that provides the optimal education experience," Mr. Jeffries said. "Anyone who says race is not an element of diversity is not living on this planet."
Black applicants also had a better chance at admission to the two schools than Asians and Hispanics.
Blacks with LSAT scores of 160 and grade-point average of 3.25 have a 95 percent chance of being admitted to Virginia, versus a 3 percent chance for equally qualified Hispanics and whites, and a 5 percent chance for Asian applicants.
Blacks with LSAT scores of 160 and a 3.25 grade-point average have a 99 percent chance of getting into William and Mary, compared with a 60 percent chance for Hispanics and whites, and a 67 percent chance for Asian applicants.
This is not the first time the admissions policy at Virginia has been questioned. The school eliminated a point system that in some cases favored minorities in 1999 after the center released a report on it.
George Mason University School of Law is the only one of the three state law schools that does not discriminate against white students, the report found. At the school, black applicants were three times more likely to be admitted than whites.
Black students admitted to George Mason had a median grade-point average of 3.19 and scored 158 on the LSAT, while white students had a 3.22 grade-point average and got a 159 on the test.
The report also found that at all three schools, the grade-point average of first-year law students who are black was a half-point lower than that of white students.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide