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Updated admissions policy expands diversity at UWRF

February 22, 2007

An updated admissions policy will allow UW-River Falls to use an applicant’s race and ethnicity as a factor in the admissions process to help ensure diversity on campus.

The policy was passed by Faculty Senate last spring and was unanimously approved by the Board of Regents Feb. 9.

Alan Tuchtenhagen, associate vice chancellor for enrollment services, said the policy was updated to improve the language on admission requirements.

“We set up admissions standards so we can set people up for success, not to get into college,” Tuchtenhagen said.

“A new student’s admission to UWRF is determined by a number of academic and nonacademic factors,” the updated admission policy states.

While the current admissions policy says both academic and nonacademic factors will be used in deciding the admission of applicants, the updated policy has clearer wording.

Tuchtenhagen said academic factors include an applicant’s cumulative grade point average, the difficulty of high school curriculum, high school class rank and standardized test scores.

Nonacademic factors include such things as leadership, community service and personal characteristics, like race and ethnicity, he said.

By considering both academic and nonacademic factors, Tuchtenhagen said he hopes it will bring more diversity to the University, not only with regard to race and ethnicity, but also geography and talent. 

“In the process, race might be a factor in the consideration of an applicant, but it won’t be the only factor,” he said.

Freshman See Yang said he hopes the updated admissions policy will bring more diversity to campus as a result of race, ethnicity and other personal characteristics being considered in the admissions process.

“There needs to be more diversity,” Yang said.

Freshman Michelle Johnson said having race be a factor in the admission of an applicant is a touchy situation.

“I don’t think race should be a factor,” Johnson said. “It should just be about academics.”

She said if race is considered, it shouldn’t disadvantage applicants who deserve to be admitted.

Some people are concerned that academics will be deemphasized with the new policy, Tuchtenhagen said.

“Academic performance will top anything else in the admission of applicants,” Tuchtenhagen said. “Race may play a role if an applicant falls in the middle of meeting standards, but it is really a secondary way though.”

The debate over whether to consider race in the admissions process has been going on for two years, he said.

“There are people out there who don’t want race mentioned on applications at all,” Tuchtenhagen said. “In Gratz v. Bollinger, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of having race on college applications.”

The case involved a student who sued the University of Michigan on grounds that the University’s consideration of race and ethnicity in its undergraduate admissions decisions violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, according to the Duke Law Web site.

The Supreme Court ruled the university could consider race and ethnicity in its undergraduate admissions process as long as it was part of a comprehensive file, Tuchtenhagen said.

“In other words, race cannot be a single factor,” he said. “It can be, however, one of many factors.”

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