This past year, only 40 percent of black students accepted into the University of Pennsylvania’s freshman class chose to enroll. While there are many reasons for this disproportionately low yield rate — some beyond the university’s control — it is clear that Penn’s minority population has room to grow.
This issue, and others involving diversity on college campuses, has been brought into the national spotlight as a result of the Supreme Court’s decision to take on the controversial subject of affirmative action in higher education for the first time in more than two decades.
The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would hear arguments on two cases involving the University of Michigan’s affirmative action policies. Both suits claim that the applicants filing suit were more qualified than numerous minority students admitted in their stead.
The students face an uphill battle in their quest for admission. Lower courts have already ruled against them, and in 1978 — the last time the Supreme Court ruled on a similar matter — the concept of affirmative action survived, albeit without quotas.
And although the cases at hand involve public higher education, ramifications from the Supreme Court’s decision will almost certainly spread to private institutions across the country.
It is appropriate and necessary for Penn to select a larger percentage of equally qualified minority applicants in an effort to create a diverse community. We also believe it is for the Supreme Court — not the university — to decide whether “less” qualified minority applicants merit specific procedural modifications.
It is clear the attention of Penn administrators should not be focused on the debate over affirmative action.
Rather, their attention must be placed on accepting the highest caliber students who apply to the university, and ensuring that they come here once accepted.
University Wire — University of Pennsylvania