Students protest new study on diversity efforts - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Students take offense to study claiming UW-Madison discriminates

Posted:

MADISON (WKOW) -- A day of protests on UW-Madison's campus culminated in a scholarly debate Tuesday night, all focused on the university's affirmative action policy.

The protests began in the morning, after a Virginia-based conservative think tank released a study accusing the university of unfairly discriminating against white and Asian students by accepting blacks and Latinos with lower average grades and test scores.

The Center for Equal Opportunity's president, Roger Clegg, called the findings the highest degree of discrimination the group has seen in 15 years of similar studies at other universities.

"It encourages the victim mindset. It removes an academic incentive for excellence," Clegg said of affirmative action during a debate at Union South with UW-Madison law professor Larry Church.

A crowd of more than 850 people, mostly student protesters, hissed.

The Center for Equal Opportunity points to university admissions data from 2007 and 2008 that show between 70 and 85 percent of black and Latino applicants were admitted, compared to about 60 percent of white and Asian applicants.

The median composite SAT score for black admittees was 150 points lower than for whites and Asians, the group said, while the median SAT score for Latino students was 100 points lower.

The university says no applicant is admitted solely on race or ethnicity, but it does consider those factors as part of its "holistic" admissions process. The university says that process is designed to help build diversity at the school.

"We believe deeply in what we are doing at the university and every student has the potential and the academic profile to be successful at UW-Madison," Damon Williams, UW-Madison's chief diversity officer and vice provost for diversity and climate said.

"The commentary offered by CEO fails to recognize this point and that the presence of social diversity enhances the excellence of our institution in so many ways."

Overall, minority students made up only a small fraction of the admitted students in 2008. More than 85% of accepted students were white.

"Students of color and students of lower socio-economic status are being told that basically, we're not supposed to be here," said UW student Blaire White of the CEO study.

The university informed students Monday night of the study's impending release. Students responded by storming the group's press conference Tuesday morning.

About a hundred students locked out of the Doubletree hotel in Madison rushed through the doors and into the meeting room chanting, "Power to the people. People, power."

Several students gathered around Clegg chanting, "[We are] more than our scores."

Clegg packed up his brief case and left.

*******

MADISON (WKOW) -- Protests erupt in response to a new study released on race and admissions at UW Madison. A group out of Virginia released data that claims UW Madison is one of the worst schools when it comes to discriminating against White and Asian students.

This study sent shock waves through the UW Madison Campus. Monday night university officials organized an urgent meeting with students to discuss the claims the school discriminates when it comes to admitting certain students.

Tuesday students took the matter into their own hands.

About a hundred of students locked out of the Doubletree hotel in Madison rushed through the doors in protest chanting, "power to the people, people, power."

These students are outraged over a new study released by the center for equal opportunity, a conservative group based out of Virginia that looks at admissions and race and how much weight a university puts toward race when accepting students.

CEO Roger Clegg says, "We're not anti-diversity, we're against discrimination and what's going on at UW Madison is discrimination"

Clegg said in a press conference, data from 2007 and 2008 shows UW Madison discriminates by giving preference to black and Hispanic students over White and Asian students even though their test scores were on average lower.

Clegg says, "it's divisive, it's insulting, it's unfair."

UW leaders dispute the data saying the information is old, but they don't dispute the fact they as a University give preference to certain students based on affirmative action.

Sara Goldrick-Rab, UW Madison Associate Professor says, "White and Asian students are getting plenty of opportunity. They represent 18,000 of our applicants each year, it's the other students who show up in about 600 or less in admissions pools. Certainly we exercise preferences in our admission practices as do all of our peers throughout the United States because it's fair and legal."

For senior Althea Miller, the study is insulting and hits close to home. She came to UW Madison four years ago from Los Angeles and says it hurts to hear claims she only got in because of her race.

Miller says, "I was in the top third in my class, I had a high GPA, I had everything that the University wants outside of race, but for them to come to that, I'm just distraught, I'm just so hurt."

Once people got into the hotel, they took over this conference room, chanting, sharing stories and fighting against this study.

Chants of "We're more than our scores," filled the hotel and forced Clegg to be escorted out. Police were called to the hotel, but no arrests were made.

Miller says, "Regardless of the BS we get put through there are a group of people that care and actually want me for me."

Students gathered at Bascom Hill for another rally on this issue at 6 p.m. They then marched to the Union South where a debate on affirmative action took place between Roger Clegg and Larry Church, a UW-Madison law professor and constitutional scholar.

Stay tuned to 27 News at 10 for more on the debate.

 *******

MADISON (WKOW) -- The Center for Equal Opportunity released two studies Tuesday at the Doubletree Hotel in Madison.

CEO President Roger Clegg says the new studies show severe racial discrimination at the University of Wisconsin.

UW Madison leaders released a response to the new study. They say the University of Wisconsin-Madison strongly reaffirms its commitment to the value of enrolling a highly diverse student body, which creates a vibrant academic community as well as alumni who are fully engaged for the global marketplace.

The statement goes on to say UW Madison's approach is consistent with the US Supreme Court's decisions in the Michigan affirmative action cases that say race is a permissible factor in consideration of holistic admissions.

"Any student who is accepted at UW-Madison is here because he or she has the potential and the capacity to succeed," says UW-Madison Interim Chancellor David Ward. "No matter what a student's class rank or test scores were, students who are accepted qualify for a spot at this university. No one is admitted solely because of race or ethnicity."

The conservative group that did the study is based in Virginia. A report by the State Journal says the group opposes Affirmative Action.

They say their report will show African Americans and Hispanics are more likely to get admitted to the University of Wisconsin-Madison even though they have lower average test scores than Caucasian and Asian students.

The center analyzed undergraduate admissions data from 2007-2008. It found that UW Madison admitted roughly 7 in 10 black applicants and 8 in 10 Hispanic applicants, compared to 6 in 10 white and Asian applicants.

27 News' Colby Robertson will be at the press conference at 11:00 and will bring you the latest on this story tonight at 27 News at 5, 6 and 6:30.

Powered by Frankly