Affirmative action takes on many different forms when it comes to applying this concept to undergraduate and graduate admissions policies at universities nationwide. According to Mitchell Landberg in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on January 19th, 2003, ” The public universities of California, Texas, and Florida, whose race neutral admissions policies were applauded by president Bush this week, are notable for their efforts to achieve goals of affirmative action -racial diversity- without actually using affirmative action”(A-11). According to this statement, we must examine affirmative action policies as both a concept and an applied practice or theory. “Under the Supreme Court’s 1978 Bakke decision, race is allowed to be weighed in as one factor in deciding who shall be admitted to college, and building a diverse student body is a permissible goal,” states the Knight Rider Washington Bureau on January 16th, 2003. Therefore, the need to adopt an admissions policy to satisfy the Bakke decision took center stage at most universities across the nation. However, another stipulation in the Bakke decision adds that such admission policies cannot become quotas that would assure admissions based on race; it is only to be one subjective factor in the complex admissions policies. Universities across the nation had a difficult time establishing an admissions policy that would effectively meet all of the criteria listed above and decided upon by the Supreme Court.
Brigham Young University has adopted an affirmative action policy that looks at many aspects of the applicant such as ethnicity, work experience, age, and whether or not the applicant attended another undergraduate institution. However, ethnicity is an important factor in their admissions policy. According to Kathy Pullins, Associate Dean of Admissions at Brigham Young University, “An applicant’s minority status would not be the one distinguishing factor, however, in the context of an entire file, ethnic diversity is considered.(The Daily Universe, Brigham Young University, January 10th, 2003) Brigham Young University eagerly awaits the decision by the Supreme Court on the University of Michigan admissions policies. Brigham Young University uses a system nearly identical to that of the University of Michigan’s system. Brigham Young University has begun to rethink their admissions policies along with most other universities across the nation in case the Supreme Court rules against the University of Michigan.
Other universities across the nation have adopted admissions policies that accomplish the goal of affirmative action without applying the theory of or usual use of affirmative action. Admissions policies that consider race have been ruled unconstitutional in seven states. The federal courts of Texas, Louisiana, Florida, California, Washington, Mississippi, and Georgia have found admissions policies considering race to be unconstitutional. These states, Florida, California, Texas, and Georgia in specific, quickly adopted new admissions policies that would achieve the goal of affirmative action. The University of Georgia immediately adopted a plan that focused on minority recruitment. This plan required the opening of two recruitment offices in areas that are heavily populated with minorities. These offices sent mailings to minorities, offered campus tours to minority students and their parents, and visited local schools to encourage minorities to go on the college track early in school. Although these policies seem aggressive, Tracey Ford, Director of the Office of Institutional Diversity said, “There isn’t anything that says we can’t target, recruit, and look for a specific group. We recruit musicians and we recruit honor student. This is just another subgroup on which we focus our recruitment efforts.” (Kacey Earl, Daily Universe, January 10th, 2003)
In 1996, in the state of Texas, a federal court decided that the racial preferences for admissions used at the University of Texas law school were not acceptable. The state quickly adopted a new plan in which the top ten percent of students in every high school were guaranteed admissions to a state college or university of their choice. This assured that even the top ten percent from certain underachieving minority schools would be accepted into a state college or university. This program also assured that the top ten percent from wealthy, as well as, poor school districts would be accepted. The then governor of Texas George W. Bush adopted this program. Many other states follow a nearly identical system to the state of Texas’s system. However, California allows only the top four percent of high schools students guaranteed admissions to a state college or university, and Florida allows the top twenty percent guaranteed admissions to a state college or university. These three states achieve the goals of affirmative action, mainly a racially diverse student body, without using a program that directly applies affirmative action. All of these universities have a student body that is or is near as racially diverse as it was prior to the new admissions policies. These policies have generally succeeded, however they have created a two-tier university system. The two-tier refers to guaranteed acceptance to a university, but not guaranteed acceptance to a prestigious or elite school or college within a particular university.
Percentage planes and true affirmative action plans generally achieve the same results while using different methods. Most states still use true affirmative action policy, a few states use percentage plans. All states work to achieve affirmative action or racial diversity throughout the universities. As Gerald Torres states in The Chronicle of Higher Education on October 4th, 2002, “Percentage plans should not be used as an excuse to abandon affirmative action. Both percentage plans and affirmative action are merely tools for colleges to achieve diversity in their student bodies and fairness in their allocation of seats in elite institutions…The ideal role of each of these vary depending on a state’s history, the quality of its public schools and the mission of its public universities”(p. 20). Clearly, affirmative action affects every public university across this nation. Universities have one affirmative action goal, and two affirmative action admissions policies. Most universities use a plan nearly identical to the University of Michigan’s plan, or nearly identical to the percentage plan in Texas.