UW Regents Approve Race As Factor In Admissions

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While the Board of Regents was unanimous in its decision, support for the measure is anything but.

Regents say the new admissions policy is supposed to increase diversity on UW campuses.

Right now an overwhelming majority of UW students, 95% at Eau Claire, are white.

"This really isn't raced based admissions, it just allows us to take race into consideration," explains UW Eau Claire Associate Director of Admissions Heather Pearson. She says race and diversity of all kinds is vital to the college experience.

She says employers want to know students can work with people of different backgrounds and administrators want to know they're looking at the whole student.

"It allows us to look at who they are, what they've done, what they could contribute and in the end we're hoping it contributes to a more diverse student body on campus," says Pearson.

But Tom Burton, a business economics major and president of the College Republicans thinks the policy is unnecessary and divisive.

He thinks everyone--regardless of race--should be treated the same and admitted on academic merits.

"There's no guarantee if you do well on the ACT that you can get in and that just seems like it's going to reduce the incentive for kids to work hard in high school," says Burton.

Mary Yang worked hard in school and came to Eau Claire on a diversity scholarship.

While she unsure about the new policy she and her white friends are sure having students of different backgrounds benefits everyone

"They want to be more knowledgeable about where I"m coming from so they will gain experience. I think that's an advantage to them and to me so I can tell them who I am," says Yang.

Regents say today's change puts them in compliance with a 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing race in admissions.

But opponents say the policy violates state law.

In the end any changes opponents want could land in court.