Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Columbia University counters affirmative action ad campaign

(U-WIRE) NEW YORK – One day after the Center for Individual Rights launched its nationwide campaign against the use of affirmative action in college admissions, Columbia University officials defended the school’s admissions policies as not only legal, but essential to the creation of a diverse student body.

“Columbia has had an affirmative action program for more than 30 years, and it has been extremely successful in attracting to Columbia gifted students from all racial and ethnic backgrounds,” said University President George Rupp in a statement.

But former Dean of Students Roger Lehecka was reluctant to characterize Columbia’s admissions policies as a form of affirmative action, a phrase referring to a government program established in the 1970s that requires colleges and other institutions to search for a broad range of candidates in admissions and hiring.

CIR is accusing “nearly every elite college in America” of violating non-discrimination laws in a full-page advertisement that encouraged students to order a free handbook on how to investigate a school’s admissions policies.

The law in question was established by a 1978 Supreme Court decision, which found the use of racial quotas in the admissions process to be illegal. Race can be used as one of several criteria in admissions, according to the decision.

Provost Jonathan Cole said no school, to his knowledge, breaks the law as established in the 1978 decision.

Columbia has never faced a lawsuit related to the admissions process, Cole said, and the University is legally obligated to file annual affirmative action reports.

The college of arts and sciences’ student body is nine percent African American, 17 percent Asian and seven percent Hispanic, according to school statistics.

“Populations of Columbia student bodies have become much more diverse,” as the expansion of financial aid programs has allowed qualified, but underprivileged, students to attend college, specifically granting the middle class widespread access to higher education, Cole said.

Both Lehecka and Cole pointed out the diversity of the group of students denied from Columbia every year as one indication of fairness in the admissions process.

Institutions that have fallen under scrutiny for admissions policies in past court cases have been exclusively public, and Lehecka said he was skeptical that CIR’s initiative would be successful at private institutions such as Columbia.

-Brian Horan, Columbia Daily Spectator

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