Report: Virginia Colleges Use Racial Considerations in Admissions Process

In this April 2005 file photo, students walk the campus of Central State University near Xenia, Ohio. Financially struggling Central State, the state's only public historically black college, would get $33 million to upgrade its buildings and to improve its marketing so it can attract more students under a plan …
AP Photo/Tom Uhlman

The Center for Equal Opportunity released a report this month that shows colleges in Virginia, including those considered elites on the university landscape, are considering race in the admissions process.

The center’s research fellow, Althea Nagai, compiled the report focused on five public universities in the commonwealth: University of Virginia, William & Mary, Virginia Tech, James Madison University, and George Mason University.

“We uncovered a significant amount of discrimination, especially at the first two schools,” the center said in a press release about the report.

“Over the years, CEO has obtained data, as we did here, from public colleges and universities through state freedom of information laws, analyzed what we found, and released dozens of studies of schools all over the country,” the press release said.

The report was released in conjunction with the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project.

“Virginia’s public universities are perhaps the country’s most selective among those still allowed to use racial and ethnic preferences (California, for example, and a number of other states have banned such discrimination as a matter of state law),” the center said of its report.

The center report found:

Among the Virginia study’s findings are that the two most selective schools, UVA and William & Mary, give the heaviest admission preferences and they are to African Americans. Thus, the probabilities of admission and odds-ratios showed significant racial preference; there was a black-white SAT gap at the two schools of 180 and 190 points, respectively; and there were 1675 white applicants to UVa and 943 white applicants to William & Mary, who were rejected despite having higher standardized test scores and high-school grades than the black admittee medians.

But perhaps the most salient finding is that all five schools discriminated to one degree or another against Asian Americans in their respective admissions.

Some of the findings from the report’s executive summary include:
• At UVA and WM, black applicants were admitted at higher rates than whites and Asian Americans. WM also admitted Hispanics at a higher rate than Asian American and white applicants.

• 35 percent of black applicants were admitted to UVA, as were 32 percent of Hispanics, 32 percent of Asian Americans, and 30 percent of whites.

• At WM, 41 percent of blacks were admitted, as were 50 percent of Hispanics, 37 percent of Asian Americans, and 35 percent of whites.

The opposite was the case for the other schools, which admitted Asian Americans and whites at a higher rate than blacks and Hispanics:

• VT admitted 68 percent of Asian Americans and 74 percent of whites, compared to 61 percent of Hispanics and 50 percent of blacks.

• JMU admitted 79 percent of whites, 72 percent of Asian Americans, 60 percent of Hispanics, and 53 percent of blacks.

• GMU admitted 87 percent of whites and Asian Americans, 75 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of blacks.

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