AP: A&M 82 Percent White

Posted

on Sat, Jan. 10, 2004
Fort Worth Star Telegram

Texas A&M will drop legacy

program
The Associated Press

COLLEGE STATION – Texas A&M University’s president

said Friday that the school will no longer give preference to applicants whose parents or grandparents

were graduates.
A group of state lawmakers criticized the legacy program Wednesday, and

representatives of state civil rights groups indicated that they would sue the school if the policy

didn’t change.

A&M President Robert Gates told The Associated Press that the threat of

litigation played no role in his decision to eliminate the policy immediately, although criticism was a

factor in the timing.

“What I’ve seen in the media this week certainly reinforced the

belief that I had to act quickly,” Gates said. “But I’d say the train was already out of the

station.”

Gates said that he initially believed the university had more time to deal

with the legacy program, which was recognized in November as a problem, and that he takes full

responsibility for any negative publicity for A&M.

Gates said that the policy played

less of a role in admissions than many believed and that university officials would continue to

encourage students from Aggie families to apply.

“But, after consultation with each of

the Texas A&M University System regents, I have decided that, effective immediately, Texas A&M will no

longer award points for legacy in the admissions review process,” he said in a

statement.

Prior affiliation with the university should not be part of an admissions

process based on individual merit and potential contribution, he said.

Some faculty

leaders had also said it was time to revoke the policy, which had been a formal part of admissions

since 1989.

Typically, anywhere from 1,650 to more than 2,000 applicants a year received

legacy points, usually four points on a 100-point scale that also takes into account such factors as

class rank, test scores, extracurricular activities and community service.

The school

acknowledged last year that more than 300 students were accepted through the legacy program who would

not have qualified otherwise. The president of the state National Association for the Advancement of

Colored People called the program discriminatory because blacks did not attend Texas A&M until 1963,

making minority applicants less likely to have parents or grandparents who graduated from

A&M.

Last fall, 82 percent of A&M’s undergraduates were Anglo, 2 percent were black, 9

percent were Hispanic, and 3 percent were Asian-American.

Gates has promised lawmakers

that he will lead a charge to increase minority enrollment. Gates said he had intended that the legacy

program be addressed in a review of admissions policy.

A&M was the state’s only public

school with a legacy program to boost alumni support.

Meanwhile, the University of Texas

at Austin is considering an admissions policy that would include race as a factor in selecting students

in an effort to boost minority enrollment — a move allowed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in

2003.

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