Colleges and universities across the nation approach enrollment diversity in many different ways. Some schools actively seek to diversify their student body, while other schools maintain that academic excellence should be the most important factor when considering a student for admission.
Currently, the University System of Maryland Board of Regents is considering the role that diversity plays in higher education. Recently, at a forum on diversity in Maryland, many influential members of the state education system met to discuss how Maryland is dealing with diversity in higher education. Dan Mote, University of Maryland President, Brit Kirwan, university system chancellor, and others expressed concern regarding diversity in the state of Maryland:
“There’s no silver bullet for this problem. It’s not a one-problem, one-program, one-idea kind of problem. There are just a lot of pieces to this…. We have a lot of programs supporting people from disadvantaged circumstances and, of course, minority enrollment and diversity and all of these issues,” Mote said. The university’s minority programs provide “a lot of opportunities to implement ideas,” Mote said, adding that this university will work with the USM in developing initiatives that target black males.’ 1
A diverse student body in higher education is important to different schools for different reasons. In Maryland, officials expressed concern that if minority access to higher education is not improved, the future of the state may be at stake; “because if the growing minority population doesn’t receive an adequate higher education, the state’s workforce will dwindle and the economy will suffer.”
Promoting racial diversity in higher education is a complicated endeavor, as justice Ginsburg noted: “It’s very hard for me to see how you can have a racial objective, but a non-racial means to get there.”
Along these lines, the American Civil Rights Coalition–a group that has been called “anti-affirmative action” is investigating the admissions policies in Arizona, and 8 other states.
An ASU spokeswoman stated that ”A student’s ethnic background has never been used as a factor in determining admittance to ASU,”, she also declared that academic qualifications are the sole criterion for admissions.
Conversely–in an attempt to increase diversity in the student body–the University of Wisconsin has decided to include race as a factor in the admissions process.
As Dan Mote expressed, the problem of racial diversity in higher education is much more deeply rooted than the admissions process. The mere fact that the pool of qualified applicants is not in proportion with the racial constitution of a given population is a good indication that there is a more deeply-rooted problem.
Unfortunately this point brings the argument full circle; how can we change racial diversity in higher education without using racial qualifiers to achieve these goals?
Perhaps we need to revisit the larger issue: should promoting diversity be considered reverse discrimination?
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–Sources 1 Overly, Steven; “University struggles with minority education”, Diamondbackonline, 2-20-07 2 Associated Press “Anti-affirmative action group to investigate Arizona schools” Mohave Daily News, February 19, 2007