Racial discrimination is alive and well in American higher education, but it's not the sort intended to exclude racial and ethnic minorities, unless they happen to be Asian.
For a decade now, my Center for Equal Opportunity has documented the double standards used by colleges and universities in giving preference in admission to blacks and Hispanics while disfavoring better qualified whites and Asians.
In July 2003, the Supreme Court struck down the University of Michigan's undergraduate affirmative action admissions program, which favored blacks and, to a lesser extent, Hispanics. But three new CEO studies released this week show that preferences, for blacks especially, have gotten worse in subsequent years. And these preferences extend to law and medical school admissions as well.
In 2003, the Supreme Court handed down two decisions on Michigan's admissions programs. In Gratz v. Bollinger, the Court ruled that the university's undergraduate program, which awarded extra points on the basis of race or ethnicity, was unconstitutional. In Grutter v. Bollinger, which examined the law school's admissions procedures, the Court upheld the school's program, which it contended took race into account but did not mechanically award specific points for race or ethnicity.
Even in the Grutter decision, however, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who wrote the 5-4 majority opinion, said, "We expect that 25 years from now, the use of racial preferences will no longer be necessary." But the evidence from our studies shows the university is not on a path to eliminating preferences in either its undergraduate or graduate programs.
CEO looked at undergraduate, law school and medical school admissions at UM for 1999, 2003, 2004 and 2005, with information provided by the university under a freedom of information request. In all years and at all levels, the University of Michigan routinely admitted blacks and Hispanics with lower test scores and grades than whites or Asians -- and the differences were large.
In 2005, for example, the combined median SAT scores for blacks were 190 points lower (on a scale of 1600) than whites and 240 points lower than Asians. Similarly, blacks trailed whites in high school grade point averages by .5 and Asians by .4 (out of a potential 4.0). Over all the years analyzed, 8,000 whites, Asians and Hispanics were rejected who had higher grades and test scores than the median black admittee, including nearly 2,700 such students in 2005 alone.
Linda Chavez is chairman of the Center for Equal Opportunity and author of Betrayal: How Union Bosses Shake Down Their Members and Corrupt American Politics .
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