Monday, December 13, 2004

Changes in Affirmative Action Policy at Ivy Leagues?

The WSJ is trumpeting what it perceives as a sea-change in affirmative action policies at a lot of the top schools.

The Supreme Court's decision last year regarding the University of Michigan's race-conscious admissions policies has hastened the trend, but schools were coming around even before the ruling. Since 2002, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Northwestern, Williams, Indiana University and dozens of others have opened up scholarships, internships and summer programs to all students, regardless of race.

Much of the credit belongs to organizations--the Center for Equal Opportunity, the Center for Individual Rights and the National Association of Scholars--committed to color-blind education polices. Two years ago, the Center for Equal Opportunity sent a letter to MIT, whose summer program for high school students interested in science and technology excluded Asians and whites.

It looks like they are primarily talking about special underprivileged minority fellowships and pre-college programs that are designed to boost minority enrollment. They are generally not talking about affirmative action itself -- the factors that influence the Admissions Office when it makes the decision to admit.

This needs to be investigated some more. I have a suspicion that the colleges named are making changes in their programs without dissolving them entirely. It's not that complicated to say that you want to use a program to generally boost the diversity of your student-body, and that the people who may contribute to that could come from any ethnic background. In practice, the programs may still function the same way.

Still-- this could end up being a pretty big deal. Does anyone have more information on this? I did a quick check at the University of Wisconsin website, and couldn't find anything in response to searches on things like "Minority Pre-College Scholarship Program."

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