Portales Statement favoring Grutter, Dec. 18, 2003

English Professor Marco Portales, who was active in the Faculty Senate

debates, read the following statement to Texas A&M University Presdient Robert Gates on Dec. 18, 2003

during an audience with “minority faculty”. Portales was not aware that the president’s own

taskforce on admissions had recommended affirmative action on Aug. 29, 2003. December 18, 2003

Why Texas A&M Should Accept the Grutter Supreme Court Decision

On June

23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the use of race in college admissions policies in a Michigan

case precisely to help universities like Texas A&M recruit more minority students. Like the University

of Michigan and other top-ranked campuses, Texas A&M has been struggling for more than 20 years to

attract more qualified minority students. Today minorities comprise nearly 50% of the population of

Texas (33% Latinos, 12.8% African Americans, and 3.5% Asian American) and demographers predict

continued growth. Despite this phenomenal growth among minorities, Texas A&M only has an 8% Latino and

a 3% African American student population.

The Grutter verdict surprised many

people who continue to believe in a color-blind, race neutral society. The legal decision surprised

people because instead of embracing the color-blind Hopwood 5th Circuit Court of Appeals 1996 opinion,

the Supreme Court reasserted the 1978 Bakke decision. Bakke had allowed the use of race in college

admissions in that University of California/Davis case.

For this reason, Texas A&M’s

recent decision not to take advantage of the Grutter allowance is contrary to the Court’s intention.

That intention effectively nullified Hopwood, which legally prevented college admissions officials from

admitting more minority students. What universities have discovered over the years is that when race

cannot be weighed as a plus factor, it is nearly impossible to admit qualified minorities. Select

college admissions policies are designed to admit students with the best K- 12 educations and since

most minorities do not have access to the best schools or long-term financial support and parental

guidance, securing a first-rate K-12 education is extremely difficult for most minority

youngsters.

Hopwood (1996-2003) required color-blind, race neutral college admissions

criteria that Grutter now supersedes. This statement means that public universities such as Texas A&M

are expected to take advantage of Grutter, just as Rice and the University of Texas have done. As the

state’s public land-grant institution, Texas A&M cannot and ought not to be out of step with the legal

parameters that Grutter now affords.

Texas A&M’s new admissions policy, however,

embraces Hopwood’s color-blind criteria because our administration believes that including race in

admissions stigmatizes minority students. But the Faculty Committed to an Inclusive Campus believe that

qualified minority students admitted to Texas A&M would not be stigmatized if the university were to

undertake a campaign to explain to the general public the stringent criteria that each student admitted

has to meet.

Since the criteria that determine whether an applicant is admitted have not

been sufficiently promulgated to dispel “race-based” language and thinking, I call upon the campus

administration:

(1) to embrace race in its admissions policy, as the Supreme Court

provides in Grutter; and,

(2) to spell out admissions criteria so that the general

public can learn just how competitive students must be to enter Texas A&M. No one is admitted only

because of race, as some people may think.

Finally, I respectfully request that race be

included in admissions so that we can facilitate inviting, accepting and enrolling more minority

students at Texas A&M. Otherwise, it will be difficult.

Marco Portales
Professor

of English
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4227
(979) 845-

8305
mportales@tamu.edu

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