Colin Allen: Adding It Up

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Letter to the Editor
theeagle.com
Jan. 13, 2004

The

editorial on Texas A&M’s admissions policy (Eagle, Jan 11) claims that legacy points are race-neutral.

But the numbers don’t add up to that conclusion. The editorial states that in 2003, legacy points went

to 312 white students, 6 black students and 27 Hispanic students. Of 345 students receiving legacy

points, only 9.5 percent were minorities — a rate that is lower than the 18 percent of minorities

attending the university, and much lower than the proportion of minorities in the state as a

whole.

By favoring white students disproportionately, the policy may have been

technically race-neutral in that it didn’t explicitly mention race, but it was not effectively race-

neutral in that it used a criterion that happens to be strongly correlated with race.

At

issue here are two definitions of race-neutral: one which narrowly looks at the description of the

policy, the other which looks at its outcomes.

Legacy points were applied in a narrowly

race-neutral way to relatives of former students.

But that population is not as racially

diverse as the state, or even of the current student body. Consequently, the outcome of the policy

statistically favored white students at a disproportionate rate.

Even though more

minority legacy students accepted the spots they were offered, the overall rate of minority admissions

under the legacy program was less than of the university as whole. This was not a race-neutral policy

as measured by outcomes.

One of the keys to increasing minority enrollment would be to

gain the confidence of the young minority scholars of Texas, who must overcome what they have heard

about the environment and culture of A&M being stacked against them.

The end of the

legacy policy at A&M is a small step in the right direction towards helping to change

that.

COLIN ALLEN
College Station

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