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Probe Spurs Law School To Alter Admissions Policy

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WASHINGTON--The University of California at Berkeley has agreed to alter its law-school admissions policy after an Education Department investigation concluded that the policy ran afoul of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

The school has admitted no violations of law.

Under the policy, the law school gave special treatment to minority students and allowed such students on a waiting list to compete only against each other for a limited number of slots in the school.

School officials have said that the policy was aimed at insuring that about one-quarter of its annual enrollment of roughly 270 students were members of minority groups.

Under the agreement with the department's office for civil rights, the school will no longer track students according to race. It will be allowed, however, to consider race along with other factors in choosing who it admits.

Michael L. Williams, the department's assistant secretary for civil rights, said the agreement "will encourage colleges and universities to take a look at what they're doing with the admissions policies and line them up with ... Bakke.''

In Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1978 that using racial quotas in admissions decisions was illegal, although race can be one among many factors used to make such decisions.

Although the university did not explicitly outline racial quotas, the O.C.R. noted, the school set targets that it consistently met.

University officials maintain that its former policy was consistent with Bakke.

Nevertheless, Herma Hill Kay, the dean of the law school, said, "The law school has agreed to enter into the conciliation agreement because we believe we can make certain adjustments that will set at rest the agency's concerns without affecting our efforts to maintain a diverse student body.''

She said the school's efforts were similar to those at other institutions working to promote diversity and affirmative action.

Under the agreement, the law school, known as Boalt Hall, will report to the department in December on its efforts to change its admissions policy, and prepare status reports in the falls of 1993 and 1994.--M.P.

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