From the Office of State Senator Royce West - District 23

NEWS RELEASE
For Immediate Release
April 11, 1997
Contact: La Juana Barton, (512) 463-0123

BILL TO INCREASE THE POOL OF MINORITY APPLICANTS TO TEXAS COLLEGES PASSES THE SENATE

AUSTIN, TEXAS -- In the midst of fierce debate and compromise, State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas, passed out of the Senate on Thursday, April 10, 1997, Senate Bill 1419 that attempts to "zero-out" the impact of Hopwood.

"I strongly believe in the availability and accessibility of a college education for all Texans no matter what their race. Unfortunately, this has not been the case for many ethnic minorities who have found the doors to Texas colleges shut or marginally ajar," said Senator West.

The Hopwood case and subsequent opinion by Attorney General Dan Morales stated that "race" could no longer be a factor in the consideration of admissions to public institutions of higher education in Texas.

Senate Bill 1419, voted out 23 to 7, sets in place a uniform admissions policy for first-time freshman students that is presented in a three-tier structure that was dubbed the "50/40/10 Plan".

The "50/40/10 Plan" represents the categories of admissions. The first tier category would consist of up to 50 percent of all offers of admission being made utilizing the same criterion currently used by the institutions taking into consideration class standing, test scores, and other indices traditionally used by the institution. Basically, admissions as usual.

Within this first tier would be the automatic admission of Texas' public or private high school students whose grade point average places them graduating in the top 10 percent of their class.

Statistics provided from a report by the Texas State Data Center at Texas A&M University indicate that this measure could add an additional 34% in minority students to the applicant pool of available freshman admittees.

The students in this 10 percent would have to have graduated from an accredited high school and have graduated in the same year of application, met application deadlines and complete the applicable institution's high school credit requirements.

At least 40 percent of the next applicants selected would be made utilizing, in addition to the applicant's academic class standing, consideration of economically and educational disadvantaged factors.

Many of these factors were pulled directly from the Second Status Report of the Advisory Committee on Criteria for Diversity Report to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) that listed fifteen hypothesized criteria that could be used in lieu of "race".

"Race-neutral policies, in the wake of Hopwood as released by statistical analysis by THECB concluded that "race-neutral" policies would result in a 40-50% drop in higher education enrollment of students of color in Texas," said Senator West.

The remaining tier, up to 10 percent, would be made to applicants whose selection would take into consideration the institution's desire to admit students that show a potential to succeed and in doing so contribute to the academic community of the institution. Personal interviews may be utilized within this 3rd tier.

The bill would also require that the applicable institutions make annual reports to the THECB that describe the freshman students admitted under this bill. The information reported will include a demographic breakdown by race, gender and the economic and educational factors outlined by the bill.

Senator West added that, "It was not his intent or those members who have coauthored SB 1419 and those who lent their efforts to the creation of this bill, to attempt to maintain or increase the pool of eligible applicants for admissions, admit them, and then have them fall by the waste side."

To that end, provisions are in the bill for the evaluation of applicants to discern if they would benefit from enrichment and retention programs and then develop these programs for their students.

In addition, the bill makes provisions for outreach and specifies that each institution shall develop programs designed to expand their outreach efforts to junior and high schools in order to increase the percentages of students prepared and poised to pursue higher education.

"The bill does not address the admissions policy of transfer students nor students in graduate and professional programs like medical, dental, law and graduate schools and these issues must be addressed," said West.

"This legislation alone will not eliminate the issue. "SB 1419 coupled with the commitment of the chancellors and presidents of Texas' institutions of higher education, financial support from the state, outreach and retention programs, and a publicity campaign that lets students know without a doubt that Texas schools want a diverse and representative student population, would totally "zero-out" Hopwood," said West.

"Hopwood is the law whether we agree with it or not. I stand for the principal that discrimination has no place in our Texas. "I defend the tactics employed in SB 1419 and support class-based preferences as a means of increasing the chances that more minorities will be enrolled," added West.

"I hope that all Texans will realize the serious impact of the Hopwood decision and what it means to the viability of Texas in the next Century would step forward and work with educators and legislators alike to support SB 1419 as it travels to the House and hopefully, to the Governor's office to be signed.

-- ## --


Top