Saturday, May 07, 2005

Senate Preserves Top 10 Percent Admission Law

Senate Preserves Top 10 Percent Admission Law

Efforts to Curtail, Repeal It Fail Narrowly.
By Ralph K.M. Haurwitz
Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Texas Senate on Friday narrowly rejected efforts to repeal or curtail a state law guaranteeing public university admission to students graduating in the top 10 percent of their high school classes.

However, senators approved a measure that requires students gaining admission under the law to have taken the recommended or advanced high school curriculum. Current law allows students to take a less stringent curriculum. The measure, Senate Bill 333, now goes to the House.

The Senate's action was a victory for Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, the chairman of the Senate's higher education subcommittee who filibustered two years ago to keep the top 10 percent law intact. He says the law assures that the state's universities, especially the University of Texas, have student bodies that are racially, ethnically and geographically diverse.

UT officials were disappointed by the outcome. They have been urging lawmakers to revise the law, which was enacted in 1997 after a court case involving UT resulted in a ban on affirmative action in admission to the state's public universities and colleges.

UT President Larry Faulkner said he nonetheless remains hopeful about prospects in the House. He argues that it's unwise to accept a large number of students on the basis of a single factor. In addition, UT now considers race and ethnicity because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that colleges may do so.

"I think this is only one step in the Legislature's addressing of this issue," Faulkner said. "I think there will be more to come."

Faulkner contends that some sort of cap on admissions under the top 10 percent law would be the best approach and that repealing the law altogether would be better than no change.

Currently, any student graduat- ing in the top 10 percent of a high school in Texas can attend the public college of his or her choice.

UT, more than any other school in the state, is accepting an increasing portion of its student body under that provision. Seventy-two percent of students admitted from Texas high schools for this summer and fall qualified under the law.

An amendment offered by Sen. Kyle Janek, R-Houston, to West's SB 333 would have allowed universities to accept no more than half a freshman class on the basis of class rank. The amendment was tabled, 15-13.

Sen. Jeff Wentworth, R-San Antonio, offered an amendment that would have essentially repealed the top 10 percent law. The amendment would have required admissions officers to consider 18 factors, including an applicant's academic record and socioeconomic background.

Senators tabled that amendment as well, 16-12.

Wentworth said afterward that two senators — John Carona of Dallas and Chris Harris of Arlington, both Republicans — had been expected to support repeal or a cap but were absent Friday.

Asked whether he would try again this session to repeal or modify the law, Wentworth said it would depend on whether he can line up sufficient support. "If I can't get people to change their mind, I am not going to waste the time of the Senate," he said.

1 comment:

  1. I find it interesting that our administration at The University of Texas chooses to speak on some issues and not on others. An individual can ask President Faulkner to comment on just about anything, from the food in Jester to who he wants to be the new VPSA and he will never answer the individual, but ask him about the Top 10% plan and he has an answer. I would be interested to see who has make phone calls to him in the last few months. Pressure sucks, and when you are the President of a major institution such as this one, reputation, many times, is all you have. The problem arises when we start investigating whose opinions and thoughts of others carry more weight and have more value.

    There has been so much evidence of what good the top 10% law has created. There are not over 200 more schools that are represented at UT as well as a growing Latino population. The black population has once again stabilized, especially after the hard hit that it took after the Hopwood decision yet the only thing that people concentrate on are the “unqualified” people of color that get in and all the “qualified” white people who were left out. To me, the top 10% rule is so much like the Hopwood case. There is so much talk about it, so much being said, but even more being ignored.

    In the Hopwood case, the University of Texas Law School was sued on that basis that students of color were admitted who had lower LSAT scores and lower gpa’s than Cheryl Hopwood. She argued that she had been discriminated against and people who were less qualified than she was were accepted to the school just because they were people of color. What history fails to reveal is that there were over 50 white students that were admitted in that same Freshman class that had lower test scores and lower gpa’s than Ms. Hopwood. Where they any more qualified than those students of color? Why were only the students of color named in the law suit then?

    I feel as if this situation can be used to describe the top 10% law. Everyone is so caught up in talking about how all of these students from larger, “more competitive” high schools are being rejected from UT because “their spots” are being taken by students from “less competitive” high schools. To me this translates to, “our white upper class students are being left out for poor inner city ‘minorities.’” With this analogy, the system fails to look at all of those students being admitted by legacy and even those white students who are from “less competitive” high schools. Students of color on this campus have a stigma that follows them day after day. Whether we want to acknowledge it or not, it is there.

    What so many students of color fail to realize at our University is that life is not about how you see yourself. It is about how people see you until they get to know you and that is if they even take the time to get to know you. Cynical I may be, but this is my reality.