From MALDEF Press Release via Email

MALDEF regional counsel Nina Perales commented on the continued need for affirmative action:

“We urge Texas A&M officials to rethink their decision to reject using race as a plus factor in

admissions.” She added, “A&M says it hopes to increase diversity with race-neutral outreach, but they

have tried that approach for many years now and they are still running into a brick wall.” The report

found that under the Ten Percent Plan, A&M enrollments for African Americans and Latinos in 2003 were

still one-third lower than in 1995, before affirmative action was discontinued. SALT co-president

and St. Mary’s law professor José (Beto) Juárez stated, “The Supreme Court’s recent Grutter v.

Bollinger ruling recognizes that student diversity creates educational benefits that ‘are not

theoretical but real.’” Juárez explained, “This report is needed because universities in Texas must

rigorously evaluate the effectiveness of their previous race-neutral policies before restarting

affirmative action programs.”

Michael A. Olivas, a law professor at the University of

Houston and co-author of the Ten Percent Plan legislation, said, ‘I believe that ‘blend it, don’t

end it’ is a wise approach, surely preferable to the Texas A&M approach, which declined to employ

Grutter and originally included the Aggie Legacy points until they were embarrassed into ending the

point system. Texas colleges need to build on the Ten Percent Plan’s contribution to socioeconomic and

geographic diversity at the flagship universities.’

Olivas added, ‘At the same time,

it is also clear that much more needs to be done to increase racial diversity, especially in Texas

professional schools and graduate programs.’ For example, only 3.3% of Texas medical degrees went to

African Americans, less than half of the national average. Without affirmative action at the UT Law

School (1997-2003), African American enrollments dropped by nearly three-fifths compared to 1990-95,

and Mexican American enrollments dropped by over one-quarter.

Wade Henderson, General

Counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund stated, “Affirmative action

continues to be an essential tool to give qualified individuals equal access to opportunities in higher

education. The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, through the Americans for a Fair

Chance project, will continue to work with Texas institutions of higher education as they strive to

advance equal opportunity for all students.”

William Kidder of the Equal Justice Society

explained, “Our findings challenge the unwarranted claims by the Bush Administration’s Department of

Education, which appears determined to scare universities away from constitutionally permissible forms

of affirmative action regardless of the evidence.”

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