Friday, December 08, 2006

On second thought...

So what do you think about this?

A couple of months ago, the UW system announced that they would take into account a person's skin color and ethnicity during the admission process.

Now the UW Regents are holding off.


The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents voiced support Thursday for a new admissions policy that would take into account the race, income and other non-academic factors of all applicants, not just some. But regents held off approving an official change to admissions policy after a state legislator warned of a public backlash.

The UW System administration had submitted to the regents a revised admissions policy designed to be more in line with a U.S. Supreme Court case upholding affirmative action. The 2003 decision, in two cases involving the University of Michigan, said public universities can consider race in admissions but only as one factor among many and only if all applicants are subjected to the same comprehensive review.

Under the UW System's current policy, most students are admitted solely on academic criteria, including ACT scores and class rank. Certain non-academic factors, including minority status, are to be considered for students who do not meet the criteria, but who can be admitted as "exceptions."

Under the revised policy, non-academic factors would be considered for all applicants. The factors would include "student experiences, leadership qualities, motivation, special talents, status as a non-traditional or returning adult, veteran, and whether the applicant is socio-economically disadvantaged or in an historically underrepresented racial or ethnic group."

Larry Rubin, the system's assistant vice president for academic affairs, told the regents the change was one of "form and style," and that academic criteria would continue to carry the most weight.

But state Rep. Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater) said in a letter to UW System President Kevin Reilly that the new policy was worded in a way that put non-academic factors on equal footing with academics and that "the holistic admissions policy provides no protections against racial, ethnic or income profiling by admissions staff at UW System campuses."

In November, voters in Michigan rejected through a ballot initiative the University of Michigan's affirmative action admissions policy that had been formulated based on the Supreme Court decision. Nass warned the UW System of similar action in Wisconsin should the regents pass the policy without consulting with the Legislature.

"Do the people of Wisconsin need to be placed in the position of passing a similar constitutional amendment by overwhelming numbers simply because some officials in the UW System have an agenda that isn't representative of the middle class families financing public higher education in this state?" Nass wrote in the letter released Wednesday.

Nass staff member Mike Mikalsen said Thursday that a lot of legislators had concerns about holistic admissions and that it was "a hot-button issue" among constituents.

The revised admissions policy was scheduled to be voted on Thursday by the regents' Education Committee, and then by the full board today.

Danae Davis, chair of the Education Committee, said that while most regents supported the new policy, it would be good to hold off approving it until the regents had spent time educating legislators and the public about it. The committee agreed to postpone a vote until February.

"We're delaying action, but not because we don't agree (with the policy)," Davis said.

Regents' policies provide only a framework for admissions. The individual campuses craft more specific criteria used to determine which students to accept.

Beth Weckmueller, director of enrollment services at UW-Milwaukee, said Thursday that the university's faculty senate had approved revisions to its admissions policies to "explicitly" say that "while academics are most important, there are also other factors that include race and ethnicity."

The university's admissions criteria used to require a specific ACT score or class rank or combination of the two. Under the new campus policy, Weckmueller said, there will be no "specific cut-off score."

So does this mean that if a person has the right color of skin that they will receive an easier path into the UW system?

Sounds racist to me!

Won't it be nice when a student can actually fill out a application for admission to college and not have to check a box giving their race and ethnicity?

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