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
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
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
(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.
Texas A&M University
College Station, Texas 77843-4227