Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Minority admissions plummet
Numbers point to dramatic effect of affirmative action ban

By Walter Nowinski, Daily News Editor
2/19/07

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The acceptance rate of underrepresented minorities has plunged since the University was forced to stop using affirmative action in January, according to data provided by the University.

The numbers suggest that the affirmative action ban passed by state voters in November has had a dramatic effect on admissions decisions.

University officials, though, are cautioning against reading too much into the preliminary numbers.

Before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned an injunction delaying the implementation of the affirmative action ban on Dec. 27 of last year, the University had admitted 76 percent of the underrepresented minority applicants it considered.

It only admitted 33 percent of underrepresented minority applicants considered after the University stopped taking an applicant's race into account - a decline of 43 percent.

The acceptance rate of non-underrepresented minority applicants to the University also fell over the same period, but by a less dramatic amount. Sixty-four percent of non-underrepresented minority applicants considered before the ban took effect were admitted compared with about 40 percent afterwards - a decline of 24 percent.

Typically, the admissions rate declines for all applicants as the cycle progresses as the University tries to admit the right number of students to fill the freshman class.

During the 2005-2006 admissions cycle, the acceptance rate for non-minority students declined by 12 percent from the end of December through early February.

In the same year, the underrepresented minority acceptance rate skyrocketed from 65 percent for applicants considered before the end of December to 84 percent for applicants reviewed between Jan. 7 and Feb. 11.

This year, the picture was quite different.

The acceptance rate among underrepresented minorities declined at a much more dramatic rate than the rate of the applicant pool as a whole.

University spokeswoman Julie Peterson cautioned against attributing too much of the drop in underrepresented minority acceptance rate to the affirmative action ban and said it is too early to understand its effects.

Peterson said the affirmative action ban is likely having some effect on admissions, but that the University won't be able to get the full picture until early next fall.

Still, underrepresented minority applicants went from being admitted at a rate 12 percent above the overall average before the ban took effect to 6 percent below the average afterward.

Peterson said some of the decline in the admissions rate is because the University put a special effort into encouraging students across the board to apply early this year.

"We knew there was going to be a lot of uncertainty in our admissions this year so we encouraged people to apply early," she said. "It allowed us to accelerate out admissions cycle."

The University admitted more applicants early in the cycle this year than it did last year. Through Jan. 7, acceptances to the University were up by about 11 percent. The Office of Undergraduate Admissions attributed this jump to a new paperless review system which allowed them to expedite the admission of highly qualified students.

Despite the passage of the affirmative action ban, there has been a 14 percent increase in the number of completed applications the University has received from underrepresented minorities. Overall applications to the University increased by only about 5 percent compared to last year.

The University has considered a larger number of underrepresented minority applicants this cycle compared to the same time last year. However, despite the fact that underrepresented minorities are a larger percentage of the applicant pool than last year, the number of underrepresented minority applicants accepted has declined by about 16 percent.

Peterson said it is important not to read too much into any particular snapshot of the admissions process because of the nature of rolling admissions.

"There are always peaks and flows in this process," she said. "Right now they are trying to make sure they are not over-admitting the freshman class."

But the decline in the minority acceptance rate is in line with what officials in California saw after voters there banned affirmative action there in 1996.

In an October interview, Robert Burdhal, the former chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, told the Daily that after the ban went into effect, Berkeley admitted half as many minority applicants as the year before.

Peterson said the University will have a more complete picture of the effects of the affirmative action ban on the University's admissions process by early fall.


Before and after prop 2

76 Percent of underrepresented minority applicants accepted before the University stopped using affirmative action in early January


33Percent of underrepresented minority applicants accepted after the University stopped using affirmative action in early January


64Percent of underrepresented minority applicants accepted by Dec. 31 during the 05-06 cycle


84Percent of underrepresented minority applicants accepted after Dec. 31 during the 05-06 cycle
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