Tuesday, September 28, 2004
On this day:

Auburn Admits Racial Discrimination

This article by Opelika-Auburn News staff reporter Jack Stripling was published Sunday, confirming what many have suspected for years - that Alabama's public universities regularly and systematically discriminate on the basis of race. The first paragraph summarizes it this way (emphasis added) :
"Black students who apply to Auburn University and meet the institution's minimum requirements are automatically admitted, but other races are not afforded the same treatment. The university's heretofore unspoken practice is part of an effort to both stay in accordance with a federal desegregation ruling while also meeting the university's enrollment goals for individual colleges. "
Universities nationwide are notoriously evasive about telling the truth regarding their admissions practices, and, as the Opelika-Auburn News reports, AU is no exception. Auburn administrators were initially reluctant to answer questions about admissions standards, as discussed in a September 20 Opelika-Auburn News article found here. Finally, AU administrators spilled the beans (again, emphasis added):

"Opelika-Auburn News efforts to gain information on minority admissions practices was met with some resistance before AU eventually agreed to an on the record discussion of the issue. The university released record black enrollment numbers for this year on Monday, attributing these numbers to a litany of factors including increased scholarship and recruitment efforts.

When asked whether admissions practices could have contributed to its minority recruitment effort, however, AU clammed up. Officials also continually asked "why is this a story"? It wasn't until Friday, in an interview with (AU Lead Counsel Lee) Armstrong and AU's assistant vice president of enrollment management, that AU came on record to publicly declare a practice that's been in place for two years. 'Let's be clear, it's a management practice,' Armstrong said. 'It's not a policy.'

What might be viewed as a dubious distinction is an important one. Policies require approval from AU's board of trustees. Trustees have never approved a policy that separates black applicants within the admissions process. What they have approved, however, are minimum admissions standards which were initially designed to remove the vestiges of segregation."

So, Auburn has 'fessed up. What about the Capstone? Could it be harboring similar secrets? The University of Alabama's website says that 13% of the student population is African-American. Auburn, which has just admitted to the use of racial preferences in admissions, has only reached 7.5%. Differences in recruitment practices likely explain some of this discrepancy, but the statistics still strongly suggest that it's UA's turn to answer some questions that it, too, has preferred to avoid.