AP: Diversity Numbers Down for U Mich Undergrads

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) — Seven months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the

University of Michigan’s undergraduate affirmative action policy, the number of applications from

blacks, Hispanics and American Indians is down 23 percent from the same time last year.
And the

number of those admitted is down 30 percent.

Officials said the figures are only

preliminary and thousands more applications will continue to be reviewed in a process the school hopes

to finish by the first week of April. The application deadline was February 1.

“We’ve

only accepted a fraction of the class we’ll ultimately admit,” associate director of admissions Chris

Lucier said Monday.

Overall, applications for this fall’s incoming freshman class are

down 18 percent, according to the preliminary data compiled February 5 and released to The Associated

Press Monday in response to a Freedom of Information Act request.

Despite the decrease

in applications, the total number of students admitted so far — nearly 8,600 — is down only 1 percent

from the same time last year. The university plans to admit 12,000 to 13,000 students and hopes that

will yield an enrollment of 5,545 for this fall.

Last June, the high court upheld an

affirmative action policy at the University of Michigan law school but struck down the university’s

undergraduate formula as too rigid. It awarded admission points based on race.

The

University of Michigan adopted a new application that still considers race, but does not award points,

and includes new short-answer questions and an optional essay — changes that meant applications were

made available to students about a month later than usual, stalling the start of the admissions

process.

Lucier said essay answers are “providing the breadth and the richness of

information that we really were hoping to get from students.” But the questions also mean additional

work for high school seniors, which officials say likely contributes to the lower number of

applications.

Admissions Director Ted Spencer said minority students and their families

may not want to thrust themselves into the center of the debate over affirmative

action.

“The residual kinds of impact of all this discussion and dialogue, particularly

from the other side of this issue, that diversity is bad, it makes a lot of students think, ‘Well,

maybe I don’t want to be put into that sort of environment,”‘ Spencer said.

The

university said it has reviewed 44 percent of applications from minority students and 69 percent of

non-minority applications — indicating minority students’ applications have been arriving later in

the admissions cycle.

Ohio State University, which also revised a similar point-based

admissions policy in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling, said applications from American Indians are

holding steady and Hispanic applications are up 6.2 percent from the same time last year, but

applications from blacks are down 18.6 percent.

“The mere conversation in the minority

community seems to be what lawyers call a chilling effect,” said Mabel Freeman, assistant vice

president for undergraduate admissions.

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