The Education Committee of the UW System Board of Regents held a meeting Thursday to discuss UW admissions policies. In light of the recent ruling finding the University of Georgia's race-based admission standards unconstitutional, the presentation consisted of a detailed outlining of UW-Madison admission policies.
'This is not a reconsideration of our admission policies and not a forum for a legal debate on affirmative action,' said Board of Regents President Jay L. Smith.
Smith said the Board of Regents intends to fulfill its pledge from last March to return in the fall with a better understanding of admissions practices at UW-Madison.
'Admissions decisions cannot be made on one factor alone,' said UW
System President Katherine Lyall.
Although academic factors have always been significant in considering applicants, there are many other factors, such as racial background, that must be considered, she said.
'We ask our admissions offices to assemble a lively and diverse freshman class,' she said. Lyall addressed the fairness in the UW System admissions system by stating that even students rejected admission at a UW System school may appeal.
'We believe our policies are legally appropriate and defensible,' said Pat Brady, UW System deputy general counsel for the UW System.
There is no litigation currently pending within UW-Madison's admissions standards, she said.
'The systems that have been challenged [nationally] are not like ours,' she said.
UW-Madison Chancellor John Wiley examined the actual admissions process and its use. He said factors other than test scores and GPAs reconfigured strictly around academics are important in the admissions process. Musical talent, athletics, artistic talent and community service are among these significant factors used in admission.
'Every attack on affirmative action focuses only on grades and test scores,' Wiley said. 'They're useful, but not useful enough to determine admission.'
After addressing important admissions factors, Wiley discussed the role of racial background in university admissions standards.
'Do we pay attention to race'? he said. 'Yes, we do. There is nothing in our process that is characteristic of racial discrimination.'
Wiley stated that although the state of Wisconsin is not very racially diverse, UW-Madison holds a standard to reflect any diversity within the state in its student population.
'Absolutely no one is denied or admitted because of race,' he said.
Wiley said that UW-Madison strongly encourages minority students to complete the application process. However, their applications are viewed under the same standards as all other students once they are submitted.
Although the meeting was intended to promote a greater understanding of the current admissions policies, both Regent Fred Mohs and Regent Jonathan Barry expressed interest in revisiting the subject later this year. The presentations were cut short due to lack of time.