6B - The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursday, January 30, 2003
The Michigan Daily - Weekend Magazine - Thursd
" No matter what
happens, there are
going to be a lot of
who won't get in.s
- Julie Peterson
lthough he understands the
value of diversity, Engineer-
ing senior Rich Nam said he
believes the University's admissions
policies create an unfair advantage
for students belonging to an under-
represented minority group.
"It's going to cut out people more
qualified," Nam said.
Race is one criterion in the points
systems the undergraduate admis-
sions office uses to evaluate appli-
cants to the University.
The points system used by the
College of Literature, Science, and
the Arts is a selection index of 150
points. The most controversial part
of the system is the 20 points appli-
cants receive if they belong to an
underrepresented minority group. ,
LSA's use of race will be chal-
lenged before the U.S. Supreme
Court on April 1 during oral argu-
ments in Gratz v. Bollinger.
The University maintains that the
point systems used for determining
undergraduate admissions take seri-
ously the belief that diversity is a
compelling interest in higher educa-
tion and that it accepts only quali-
fied students. through a balanced
system that considers many factors.
"Taken as a whole, it works very
well in accomplishing what we need
to accomplish in order to fulfill our
educational mission," University
spokeswoman Julie Peterson said.
"No matter what happens, there are
going to be a lot of qualified stu-
dents who won't get in."
The University has been using
race as a factor in admissions
since the first Black Action
Movement protests in 1970,
although current officials say there
are no records of what admissions
policies the University implement-
ed. After an eight-day class strike,
University President Robben Flem-
ing agreed with BAM leaders to
have a 10 percent minority enroll-
ment by the 1973-1974 academic
Despite promises and more
protests, the University would not
rise above these numbers until the
late 1980s and early 1990s when
University President James Duder-
stadt initiated the Michigan Man-
date, a multi-point program
providing a more defined strategy
for improving the racial climate on
It was around this time that the
policies of race-conscious admis-
sions become more clearly defined.
From 1995 through 1998, the
University used a complex grid sys-
tem, that compared grade point
averages, geographical location,
standardized test scores and other
factors. All of the factors had sepa-
rate grids for minority applicants
and non-minority applicants, both
in state and out-of-state. Although
the grids were similar to the current
point system, the University desired
to have a neater and more straight-
"At the end of the day, it's trying to
be more quantifiable," Peterson said.
As it was, in the December 2000
decision by U.S. District Court
Judge Patrick Duggan, the grid sys-
tem was ruled unconstitutional
because of it's setup. Duggan deter-
mined it reserved
a number of seats
for minority appli-
cants, creating a
"It is undisput-
ed that from 1995
through 1997, the
LSA used facially
and action codes
based solely upon
race. Under these
differing grids, a
certain group of
n o n - p r e fe r r e d
"i There s
be a sense
to be moldi
excluded from competing for a seat
in the class without any type Qf
individualized counselor review
solely on account of their race,"
BREAKING IT DOWN
The current LSA system,
established in 1997 and first
used in the fall of that year to
determine the Class of 2002, has a
requirement of 100 points out of
150 for admittance. One hundred
and ten of those points are based
solely on academic factors. An
applicant's GPA is recomputed by
the University using college
preparatory classes from the 10th
and 11th grades. An applicant
receives anywhere from 40 to 80
points for his or her GPA.
But since school curriculums
vary in. their level of rigor, an appli-
cant gets up to 10 points based on
their school's academic strength.
This number is determined by
admissions counselors who are
assigned to certain parts of the
country and know the schools they
work with very well. The counselors
base the school factor on the num-
ber of Advanced Placement or Inter-
national Bacculerate classes offered,
the percentage of students going to
college and school's average SAT
"An A in one school might not
mean an A in another school,"
A student also receives a range of
negative four to eight
points based on the
geMS tog curriculum factor,
which judges the
Of extent to which a stu-
their high school
career. For example,
needs if a student did not
take any AP classes
Dd. in a school that offers
15, points could be
ott Showalter deducted from his or
LSA junior "It is an individual
measure of how
much a student has challenged him-
self," Peterson said.
LSA sophomore Shilpa Murthy
said this is where it is beneficial for
the admissions policies to benefit.
people who have a socio-economic
"They're not going to have the
same number of good teachers or
AP courses," she said.
The final part of the academic
factors is standardized testing,
based on a student's SAT or ACT
score. The admissions counselor
gives students up to 12 points in
this area and the criteria differs
slightly for students applying to the
School of Engineering, where math
scores are looked at more closely.
The other side of the selection
index consists of 53 points called
"soft" factors, although no appli-
cant can receive more than 40. The
first factor is geography. All Michi-
gan residents receive 10 points, and
people coming from certain under-
represented Michigan counties -
such as Oceana, Newaygo and
Mecosta in the northern part of the
state - receive an extra six points.
Applicants from underrepresented
states - such as Kansas, West Vir-
ginia and Rhode Island - receive
two points. Peterson said the select-
ed areas were decided by looking
over the country as a whole and
selecting areas from where the Uni-
versity does not gain many students.
"If you look across a population
by chance, you would expect to get
a certain number of students," Peter-
An applicant receives four points if
a parent or stepparent is an alumnus,
or one point if any other immediate
relatives attended the University.
Murthy said she feels this factor
should not determine whether the
University admits a student.
"I don't think that has anything to
do with your credentials," she said.
"It's another business deal."
A maximum of three points can
be given for an essay, five points for
personal achievements and five
points for community service.
The most debated part of the sys-
tem is the 20 points received for
coming from a socio-economically
disadvantaged area, being a member
of an underrepresented minority
group, being an athlete, or other
When shown the point system and
how it works, some students said
they saw the importance of using
race as a factor, but they thought 20
points was too many for the Univer-
sity to give toward uncontrollable
"I think your essay should be 20
points," Murthy said, adding that she
would like to see race as a 10-point
factor. "(The essay) reflects more of
who you are ... You put time and
effort into it."
"There are the kids who fit these
categories but they don't do as well
and they still get in," Nam said, not-
ing that a student only needs 60
points from the academic factors if
they get the full 40 points on "soft"
"I'm surprised that it's such a
large proportion," LSA junior Scott
Showalter said. "Being poor and
black is such an advantage."
But University Assistant General
Counsel Jonathan Alger said race is
not a huge factor, especially consider-
ing the fact that an applicant's acade-
mic credentials comprise 110 points.
"There's no way that 20 out of 150
is the overwhelming factor," Alger
said. "The Supreme Court is unlike-
ly to fix in on a particular number."
Some students think a socio-eco-
nomic disadvantage is more justifi-
able to gain the upper hand in
admissions than being a member of
an underrepresented minority group.
Murthy noted areas of the Upper
Peninsula, which is a very poor area,
but largely white.
"They may still have the same
potential as people from suburban
schools," she said.
Some students say they want to
see the system totally overhauled,
whether it is to lessen the use of
race in admissions or to not use it
all. Showalter said he understands
the advantage of diversity, but he
feels the system hurts minorities'
because they then get branded with
the stigma that they were accepted
because of their race.
"There seems to be a sense of
inequality in the point system,"
Showalter said. "The system needs to
Alger said it is important to remem-
"It is :
tee in or
Affirmative action attempts to ensure a diverse campus.