- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2003

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) — National security adviser Condoleezza Rice said Friday she conferred with President George W. Bush on the University of Michigan's race-weighted admission policies and while she supported the president on the need for race-neutral methods to achieve diversity, she believed it appropriate for race to be one of many factors considered.

Comments by Rice, who was born in the segregated South, followed a media report that she had played a central role in White House discussions on whether to condemn race-weighted admission policies and in the president's decision to file the view with the U.S. Supreme Court, which is considering the Michigan situation.

"When the president decided to submit an amicus brief, he asked for my view on how diversity can best be achieved on university campuses," she said in a written statement. "I offered my view, drawing on my experience in academia and as provost of a major university.

"I agree with the president's position, which emphasized the need for diversity and recognizes the continued legacy of racial prejudice, and the need to fight it," she said.

Rice, an accomplished academic who was provost at Stanford University from 1993-1999 and is the first woman to hold the post of national security adviser, noted Bush challenged universities to develop methods to fully diversify their campuses.

"I believe that while race-neutral means are preferable, it is appropriate to use race as one factor among others in achieving a diverse student body."

The University of Michigan employs a point scale of 0-150 for judging undergraduate applicants. Black applicants, Hispanics and American Indians are automatically granted 20 points in the scoring. A perfect score on the Scholastic Aptitude Test nets 12 points.

Bush said such a method was unfair and unconstitutional because it discriminates against others.

The White House brief to the court said diversity was an important and legitimate government goal, but there were race-neutral ways to achieve it.

Bush favors what he calls "affirmative access" as opposed to affirmative action, which some had described as race quotas. As governor of Texas he established a system by which the top 10 percent of students in all high schools were granted admission to the state's public colleges and universities.

Florida and California have also instituted policies that have done away with race-weighted affirmative action in education and reportedly still maintain a significant minority student population in institutions of higher education.

The White House brief, however, did not address the broader question of whether racial diversity was so important that it would justify taking race into account in school admissions.

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