Thursday, April 28, 2005

Tribune Promotes Affirmative Action at MU Law School

Seriously, whenever a newspaper, particularly one from a private college institution such as Marquette University, uses the term “whitest” in an article about diversity within a particular branch of the university, in this case the Law School, automatically you know there is going to be trouble. For the affirmative action advocates at The Marquette Tribune, I ask you this question – What will your limit be before you call off this stupid charade? How many individuals from different racial minority groups will it take before you deem the student body of the Law School ‘fair’ and balanced? Should one person who happens to be an individual from a racial minority group receive more of an opportunity to be accepted into the Law School then a white person nearly identical qualifications just because you believe there should be a balance? How is that fair? Leave the school alone and allow them to continue conducting business as they have.
Marquette Law School is the ninth-whitest in the nation with a 92.6 percent white student body, according to a new study by University of Dayton Law School professor Vernellia Randall.

According to Randall, law school admissions of minority students are down across the country.

"The number of African American and Latino students taking the LSATs and applying to law schools are increasing, but the number of those minorities being admitted is decreasing," Randall said.

Marquette tries to enroll a variety of different racial, ethnic, geographic, gender and age groups, said Sean Reilly, assistant dean for admissions at Marquette Law School.

"Diversity is important to us," Reilly said. "It is a challenge for us, but we try to enroll as diverse and as qualified of a class as possible."

Reilly said the law school recruits at University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, University of Wisconsin-Madison and University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

The school also recruits at three law school forums in New York City, Atlanta and Dallas.

"I was pleased with the number of African Americans and Latinos who came up to us in Atlanta and Dallas," Reilly said. "Our hope is that they choose to apply and enroll at Marquette."

The number of diverse applicants applying to the law school this year is hopeful, Reilly said.

Randall said potential explanations for Marquette's lack of diversity are higher tuition costs and the law school simply is not admitting minority students.

"Plenty of people of color will pay the money and take out loans like everybody else to go to a good law school," Randall said.

Randall used statistics from a variety of published sources, including the 2004 American Bar Association Law School Admission Test Guide, the LSAT statistics report on the percentage of minorities who took the law school entrance test and the U.S. Census Bureau.
Randall based her study on a series of different calculations.

"I used statistics to calculate straight-up whiteness; I compared the number of minority applicants to minorities in the school; and I subtracted the law school age population from the percentage of minorities in the region," she said.

Randall said she did not attempt to explain why there were discrepancies in minority enrollment.

"If they don't want to be the whitest law school in the state, then they need to figure out why they are," Randall said of Marquette.

As one of only two law schools in the state (UW-Madison is the other school), Reilly said the private versus public dynamic has an impact on minority enrollment.

"We try to use scholarship dollars to attract people who may not be able to afford our school," Reilly said.

The 2005-'06 Marquette Law School tuition will be just over $26,000, Reilly said, compared to the $10,730 tuition for in-state law students at UW-Madison.

University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School Assistant Dean Cayolyn Butler said UW-Madison's law school is active in recruiting a variety of students.

"We recruit all around the country," Butler said. "We go to all the major forums and also recruit at historically black colleges."

Madison Law School's minority enrollment rate is 35 percent, according to Communication Coordinator Dianne Sattinger. The figure is five times more than Marquette Law School's enrollment. According to the Marquette Law School admission council, the school has a 7 percent minority enrollment rate, a figure that corresponds with the study.

Butler said Madison has a strong history of emphasis on recruiting diverse students.

Matthew Holemon, a second-year law student at Marquette, does not think diversity at the Law School is an issue but does think the school could benefit from a broader student body.

"Unless something really comes from it, like learning opportunities or new viewpoints, then it's just a numbers game," Holemon said.