Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Smith Presidents Urges Colleges to Fight Back on Affirmative Action

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Smith Presidents Urges Colleges to Fight Back on Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. - Smith College's president, Dr. Ruth Simmons, last month called for college leaders to unite in making clear that they are not about to abandon young people of any race who want and need an education.

"Lots of people have spoken against affirmative action, but we've not responded as coherently or well as we should have, 11 says the sharecropper's daughter, who became the first Black to head one of the elite Seven Sister schools.

She says many of the proposed alternatives - such as a move in Florida to admit the top 20 percent of the graduates of every high school in the state to its public colleges - run into the same problems as affirmative action.

"They box us in. You have to fit a certain mold. We are still trying to identify the right kind of people and that's what got us in trouble before she says, calling for college fac ulty to become more involved in admissions.

"We know the faculty in an institution can judge whether a student can do the work and they should decide," she says. "We should not cave in to the national movement to let outsiders make those decisions for us,"

Colleges have themselves to blame in part, she says. At one point, colleges routinely used a host of other factors as well as SAT scores and class rank. …

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