Education: Relevant, of Quality, and Inclusive
By Dr. Albert Simone, President, R.I.T.
June 23, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its
much-awaited decision on admission policies at the University
of Michigan Law School and undergraduate College of
Literature, Science, and the Arts. The Court, in reaffirming
the 1978 Bakke decision, stated that:
racial and ethnic diversity is a compelling state
"narrowly tailored" use of race in admission
decisions is permitted in order to achieve campus
may have flexibility with regard to consideration
of race in adopting admission policies consistent
with their varying missions.
including those "disguised" through utilization
of a point system as in the undergraduate case, are
illegal, and applicants should be considered as individuals
and not as members of a group.
decision, as in the Bakke case, is a split 5-4 decision
with regard to the use of race as one of several factors
in making admission decisions. The Sixth Circuit Court,
in arriving at the law school decision leading up to
the Supreme Court decision, was also split 5-4.
national polls narrowly favor affirmative action and
some narrowly oppose it. A student referendum at the
University of Michigan split 50-50 in support of its
university's affirmative action policy. Thus, the issue
remains a sensitive and controversial one, both in the
courts and across the population as a whole. I do not
expect the very active legal actions and referenda of
the past decade, at both the state and federal levels,
opposing affirmative action to subside over the next
today, however, we do have some direction. I strongly
favor the decision of the Supreme Court, for five reasons;
specifically, the decision:
RIT's mission of preparing students for successful
careers. Graduates will be working and partnering
with individuals and organizations from around the
world that are of different cultures, races, and ethnicities.
Understanding and being comfortable with them will
support our students' success. This understanding
does not occur through "on-the-job" training
or by reading a book or taking a course. It comes
through living, learning, and playing with individuals
of different cultures over the four or five years
of college life.
the college experience and increases the quality and
relevance of education.
the quality of life of our grandchildren. In the year
2050, the majority of Americans will be people of
color. If people of color are not prepared to replace
today's professional and skilled white work force,
America cannot be competitive in the global marketplace.
our democratic system of government. If in subsequent
decades the gap between rich and poor in this country
widens and the gap is defined along racial lines,
serious civil strife could readily evolve.
the American values of opportunity and access for
everyone who wants to work hard and has talent.
has a race-blind admission policy. While we vigorously
recruit nationally for talented minority students, all
of our 14,000 applicants are screened on academic credentials
independent of race. Those students - minority or majority
- who are deemed admissible are pursued. This past year,
10% of our freshman class was composed of African American,
Latino American, and Native American students. All of
these students met our academic admission criteria (thousands
of applicants did not). These students moved from the
freshman to the sophomore class at a rate in excess
of 90%, slightly higher than that for the campus as
a whole. For our academically admissible students, race
is one factor considered in admission decisions. Other
factors, such as whether another candidate is a son
or daughter of an RIT alumnus, an athlete, an artist,
or a resident of an underrepresented state are also
considered. The end result is a high quality, diverse
student body, race being one of the important considerations.
Simone's Guest Essay was published in the Democrat and
Chronicle, Thursday June 26, 2003.