Racial Preferences Widely Opposed, Poll Finds; Nearly Two-Thirds Frown on Use at Universities

Article excerpt

Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Sixty-four percent of Americans oppose giving admissions preference to racial minorities who have lower grades and standardized test scores than other college applicants, despite 58 percent saying that affirmative-action programs contribute to society's well-being.

The survey released yesterday by the Chronicle of Higher Education also found 67 percent believe colleges and universities place too much emphasis on athletics, with 77 percent saying athletes are not held to the same academic standards as other students.

"Colleges should admit there is much less support than they think for affirmative action," Kermit L. Hall, president of Utah State University, told the Chronicle for Higher Education.

Mr. Hall has criticized the higher-education establishment's support of the University of Michigan's admissions policy, which uses race as a factor. The Supreme Court is considering a challenge to Michigan's policy.

But David Ward, president of the American Council on Education, which represents the interests of higher-education institutions in Washington, told the Chronicle that lack of public support for affirmative-action programs, such as Michigan's, comes from misunderstanding.

"We just haven't done a good job at explaining ourselves in these areas," Mr. Ward said, particularly in the Michigan case, where undergraduate minority applicants are given a statistical advantage over whites if they meet the university's minimum admissions standards. …