Florida Governor Touts Minority Enrollment Increase after Racial Preferences Ban

Article excerpt

Critics are more cautious, saying it's too early to celebrate

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.

The number of minorities attending Florida's public universities increased by nearly 12 percent this fall despite new rules ending the use of racial preferences in college admissions.

Gov. Jeb Bush hailed the increase as proof that his controversial One Florida Initiative is working, but the actual percentage of minorities among this year's freshman class remains relatively unchanged from a year ago.

Both Bush and the State University System of Florida's chancellor, Dr. Adam Herbert say that Florida deserves credit for avoiding the drop-off in minority enrollments that occurred in California and Texas due to anti-affirmative action referendums and court decisions.

"This should be considered a great day for our state," Bush says. "We have defied the experience of other states. We have increased opportunities at our flagship universities for minorities."

Herbert, who is African American, gave credit to university officials for increasing their outreach efforts to minority high schools and pushing ahead with a more aggressive approach to recruiting minority students.

The Florida governor, who is the younger brother of Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush, first unveiled his plan for race-neutral university admissions last November as part of an overall plan to end affirmative action at the state level.

The Board of Regents ended racial preferences last February and put in its place the Talented 20 proposal that guaranteed university admission to any student who graduated in the top 20 percent of their high school class.

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People filed a lawsuit against the changes but a state judge threw out the challenge this summer (see Black Issues, Aug. 3). The organization has since appealed the ruling.

The preliminary numbers released by the State University System in September show that this year's freshman class includes 1,234 more Asians, African Americans, Hispanics and American Indians than the 1999 class. …