From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

For Immediate Release

CONTACT: Kelvin Bass
(512) 463-0123
December 6, 2003

Senator West says Texas A&M misses opportunity to boost minority enrollment

DALLAS - State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas) says that the new admissions policy passed Friday by the Texas A&M System fails to take advantage of an opportunity to address the university's historically poor performance in the area of attracting minority students. Earlier this week, Texas A&M President Dr. Robert Gates announced a new university admissions policy that he said will focus only on personal achievement and individual merit. The university's decision comes after the June 2003 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the University of Michigan cases where justices ruled that race can be used as a factor in college admissions.

"I am disappointed in the decision of the university president. I am disappointed with the Texas A&M Board of Regents for their actions as it relates to their establishing an admissions policy that will not use race as a consideration," said Senator West. "This institution, one of Texas' flagship universities had a chance to correct it's miserable record in admitting minorities and it did not take full advantage of that opportunity."

Senator West, who chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Higher Education, says the university's decision comes as a surprise. Other institutions such as the University of Texas System and Rice University have committed to new admissions standards where race will be a factor. Texas colleges and universities have struggled in their efforts to recruit minority students since 1996 when rulings surrounding Hopwood v. State effectively ended race as a consideration in admissions standards.

"For nearly a decade, this state has suffered a brain drain of it's minority students," said Senator West. "Since Hopwood, we have been at a disadvantage. Other states have been able to attract some of our best and brightest by using incentives that were not possible in Texas. For Texas A&M to take such a drastic step without seeking input from the Legislature - or it seems from other stakeholders that may have offered alternatives - is truly disappointing."

For Fall 2003, enrollment figures from Texas A&M - College Station show that African Americans, Hispanics and Asian Americans combined make up only 14 percent of the school's enrollment. Statewide university enrollment figures show those three ethnic groups together comprise 41 percent of Texas' college students. Texas A&M's policy would go into effect for Fall 2005. The university's plan, while not using race, will focus on socio-economically disadvantaged high schools. Race neutral plans such as Texas' Top 10 Rule have not yet been successful in bringing minority figures back to pre-Hopwood levels.

For more information, please call Kelvin Bass or LaJuana Barton at 214-467-0123.