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Diversity Competition Will Heat Up


A little over a year ago, voters in California, and the Texas courts struck down affirmative action programs in their state university systems. The results have been both disastrous and swift.

In 1997, for example, the number of African-Americans admitted to the law schools at Berkeley and UCLA dropped 80 percent, while African-American admissions at the University of Texas, which once graduated more black attorneys than any other major university, fell from 30 percent to 0. Meanwhile, the number of first-year African-American MBAs at Berkeley declined from 16 in 1996 to just 6 in 1997. Hispanic admissions also plummeted, falling 72 percent in Texas and over 40 percent in California.

But while graduate schools are now whiter, they are not necessarily brighter. In fact, research has shown that although students admitted under affirmative action programs may not have the highest GPAs or board exam scores, they have the same graduation and bar exam success rate as whites.

California's new policies won't apply to undergraduate admissions until 1998, so it is too soon to tell whether or not the drop in undergraduate enrollments will be as precipitous as it has been for graduate schools. It seems likely, though, that fewer college-educated African-Americans and Hispanics will be entering the workforce five years from now.

What this means is that far fewer bright young people will have the opportunity for an excellent education. It also means that American companies will be competing fiercely in the next century for a rapidly shrinking pool of degreed minority talent.