University of Ga. Delays Race Policy

By Vaishali Honawar — February 23, 2005 1 min read

A task force has delayed the addition of race as a factor in admissions at the University of Georgia at Athens, at least until fall 2006, because it needed more time to clear up legal issues surrounding the proposed change.

The university’s former race-inclusive admissions policy was struck down by a federal judge in 2001. Since then, the number of African-American students enrolling at the university has declined, although total minority enrollment has increased, said Keith Parker, the vice provost for institutional diversity.

In 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in two cases involving the University of Michigan that colleges may consider race in admissions as long as all applicants are considered individually and race is not the defining factor in the decisions.

The University of Georgia set up the task force to consider including race once again in its admissions policy in a way “that would not put the university in a legal tailspin,” Mr. Parker said.

He added that the university is also taking the initiative on other fronts to raise minority enrollment so that campus diversity might increase in the future without using race as an admissions criterion.

Its efforts include engaging faculty and alumni with high school and middle school students in the state to encourage minority students to apply to the university.

David D. Roberts, the task force chairman, said that while the university wants to reach a point at which it does not need to consider race, it would take time to do so.

“We would be cheating students now if we don’t have a diverse student body,” Mr. Roberts said.

After the Supreme Court rulings, all three universities that were operating under federal court orders barring the use of race in admissions announced plans to restore race as a factor. But so far, only Michigan has adopted a revised admissions policy.

For the fall 2005 entering class, the University of Texas at Austin will consider race. University President Larry Faulkner had pledged to have the new policy immediately after the high court ruling. Implementation was delayed because state law requires the university to inform the public about such a change a year in advance, spokesman Don Hale said.

A version of this article appeared in the February 23, 2005 edition of Education Week