ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

ACTA is an independent, non-profit organization committed to academic freedom, excellence, and accountability at America's colleges and universities.

Oregon Quotas

May 16, 2005 by ACTA

At the University of Oregon, the Office of Multicultural Academic Support has instituted a quota system for three lower-level math classes and three lower-level English classes. OMAS finances and manages the courses, which are much smaller and therefore much more personalized than their non-OMAS counterpart courses; restricting enrollment to eighteen students, OMAS courses reserve the first ten spots for documented minorities. To enroll in one of those first ten spots, a student must declare him- or herself to be African-American, Asian-American/Pacific Islander, Chicano/Latino, Native American or multiracial; OMAS then checks this information with the Office of the Registrar.

Oregon administrators endorse OMAS courses as important "gateway courses" for minority students. The courses are aimed at making minorities feel comfortable and supported (and as such, they assume and assert that minorities are neither comfortable nor supported in the university's regular courses). As one instructor told the Oregon Daily Emerald, the OMAS courses exist "so that they don't feel afraid to raise their hand and ask something." Greg Vincent, Oregon's vice provost for institutional equity and diversity, declares that the OMAS courses are perfectly acceptable alternatives to traditional ones because white people are allowed to register for the courses after minorities do: "I think it's ethical. I think it is legal. I think it is effective," he told the Emerald.

This is not a legal practice, despite what Oregon administrators may think. It's a quota system based on race, and as such it is discriminatory. The student journalists who write for the Emerald know that, and they've consulted with the experts:

But Edward Blum -- senior fellow at the conservative Virginia-based Center for Equal Opportunity, which monitors education policy and has filed complaints with the federal government about race-exclusive programs at universities across the nation -- said the policy is illegal.

"I can say it 10 different ways, but it's illegal, and the Department of Education will shut this down if it's brought to their attention," Blum said.

Blum said the policy amounts to a "very fast, hard quota system that will never stand up in court" and is similar to the University of Michigan undergraduate racial quota system struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003

[...]

Roger Clegg, general counsel for the Center for Equal Opportunity, said in the Regents of the University of California v. Bakke decision, the Supreme Court "made it clear setting aside slots on the basis of race is illegal."

"The legality aside, it's just wrong," Clegg said. "It's divisive to tell students you're not going to be considered because of your skin color ... I hope that the University will look at the law and will reconsider the policy."

The Center for Equal Opportunity has made a name for itself in higher education in recent years by bringing just such discriminatory practices to the attention of the Office of Civil Rights. If any organization knows what kind of program isn't going to pass legal muster, it's this one.

Comments

Leave a Comment >

There are no comments for this article yet.

Let us know what you are thinking

FEATURED TOPICS

ACTA's take on:

News Roundup

The Consequences of the Government Shutdown for Higher Ed

Chronicle of Higher Education, Lindsay Ellis and Lily Jackson 

College Bloat Meets ‘The Blade’

Wall Street Journal, Tunku Varadarajan

College Trustees Must Protect Free Speech

Chronicle of Higher Education, Keith E. Whittington

Donations Keep Iowa Wesleyan Afloat

Education Dive, Natalie Schwartz

Signup to Receive ACTA’s Quarterly
Newsletter & Email Updates


Include information for trustees.

Search