A new study contradicts claims by the University of Oklahoma that minority students do not receive preferential admissions treatment.
Black and Native American students who were admitted to the university were less qualified than their peers from other ethnic groups, according to the study, which was released by the Center for Equal Opportunity in Virginia.
The findings were most striking for OU’s graduate programs. White students admitted to the law school had a median LSAT score of 159 and a median GPA of3.60. In contrast, black students were admitted with a median LSAT score of 153 and a median GPA of 3.34. Native Americans scored better than blacks, but still demonstrably worse than white or Asian students.
According to the study: “OU Law rejected 2 American Indians, 9 Asian Americans, 1 African American, 8 Hispanics, and 105 whites despite higher test scores and grades compared to the median African American admittee.”
The center examined data provided by the university in making its determinations, said Roger Clegg, CEO’s president.
“We looked at not only undergraduate but also medical school and law school admissions, and we found the same pattern at all three schools,” he said in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Namely, preferential treatment for African American applicants, and to a lesser extent, preferential treatment for American Indian applicants.”
But the university has denied granting admissions based on race, and rejects the study’s findings. An OU spokesperson expressed disappointment with CEO’s methodology, in a statement.
“It is unfortunate that the university was not contacted or provided an opportunity to participate in the CEO study,” said Catherine Bishop, an OU spokesperson, in a statement. “Had the university been contacted, we might have been able to clarify items that seem to be misunderstood by those who prepared the report.”
Whether or not OU uses racial preferences is a timely question for Oklahoma voters, who will consider banning affirmative action at all public institutions when they go to the polls on Nov. 6. Similar ballot proposals were approved by voters in California, Michigan and Arizona in 1996, 2006 and 2010, respectively.
That Oklahoma voters would be taking up the issue was a major reason to release the study, said Clegg.
“When a state is about to have a ballot initiative like this, we think it’s particularly important to take a look at whether racial preferences are being used at public universities because we think that’s something voters have the right to know about,” he said.
Since the university does not admit to using racial preferences, some opponents of affirmative action fear that it would continue to do so, even if the proposal was approved. Even so, said Clegg, the proposal would arm those who oppose racial preferences with a legal framework to do so.
“There may be some cheating, but I think that there will be a lot less if it’s made a formal matter of state constitutional law,” he said. “There is no legal impediment now, unfortunately, to them taking race into account. I think the passage of the ballot initiative would stop or at least greatly curtail the amount of racial discrimination that’s occurring.”
The ban on the use of racial preferences in public admissions, employment, and contracting appears on the ballot as State Question 759.
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