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College Access

Our current research topics related to college access include college admissions, affirmative action, financing, diversity, and underrepresented students in higher education.

Two thousand-eight marked the 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Bakke decision, which legally upheld the consideration of race as a factor in admissions decisions for the purpose of promoting diversity in higher education. Such affirmative action policies have opened the doors of selective colleges and universities to many more minority students than might have otherwise had opportunities. While access to higher education has improved for minorities in this country, that progress is still severely threatened due, in part, to a series of very serious attacks on affirmative action. In 1996, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School, ended all considerations of race in admissions, recruitment, and scholarships at the undergraduate and graduate school level at all public institutions under its jurisdiction (i.e., Texas, Mississippi, and Louisiana). In 1996, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot initiative that also eliminated affirmative action in education, employment, and contracting throughout the state. And, the University of Michigan faced legal challenges in 2003 to both its undergraduate and law school admissions policies that give consideration to race/ethnicity.

 

Recent College Access Research

Research Item Affirmative Action as a Wedge Issue: Prop 209 and The 1996 Presidential Election
This paper analyzes the "wedge issue" strategy from both a geopolitical and survey based perspective relying on the GIS mapping of the Statewide Database and a preelection survey that oversampled minorities in different types of neighborhood contexts. We find that although white voters overwhelmingly supported Prop 209, including independent and moderate Democrats, the issue failed to swing their vote from Clinton to Dole because it was less important than other more traditional Presidential issues such as the economy. Nonwhite and the loyal Republicans were more concerned about Prop 209 than others, but their Presidential votes were not in question.
Research Item Chilling Admissions: The Affirmative Action Crisis and the Search for Alternatives
The essays in this volume represent the work of the leading scholars of affirmative action in higher education, and place the current crisis on campus in its larger context of historical discrimination and the legal battle for educational equity.
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