WASHINGTON – Under pressure from a series of pointed
questions during a forum

for minority journalists, President Bush said Friday he believes
colleges and

universities should not use “legacy” status as a factor
in admissions.

Bush’s remarks came during a question-and-answer session with
a panel of

minority journalists following an address at the Unity 2004
conference. Bush

has not previously taken a public position on the use of
“legacy” status, a

practice in which colleges offer an advantage to applicants whose
parents or

siblings have attended the school.

During a lengthy discussion on University admissions and diversity,
Bush said he

opposes “quota systems” but supports efforts to
increase diversity.

When panel member Roland Martin asked the president whether
colleges should

weigh “legacy” status in admissions, Bush said he did
not think “special

treatment” should be given to anyone.

“So the colleges should get rid of legacy?” asked
Martin, a syndicated

columnist.

“Well, I think so, yes,” Bush replied. “I think
it ought to be based on merit.”

The University’s admissions policy takes into account whether
an applicant has

family members who have attended the school.

Until last year, the admissions policy awarded 20 of 150 points
to

underrepresented applicants. Bush opposed that policy,
characterizing it as

tantamount to a “quota system.”

But the president was not clear on whether he supports the
University’s current

race-conscious admissions policy, which does not use a point
system. While he

objected to suggestions that he opposes affirmative action, Bush
avoided saying

he supports it.

“So you support affirmative action but not quotas,”
asked Martin during the

discussion.

Bush’s response prompted laughter and guffaws from audience
members: “I support

colleges affirmatively taking action to get minorities in their
schools.”

University administrators could not be reached for comment on
Friday.

When asked about a projection by Gen. Tommy Franks – a former
commander who led

the invasion into Afghanistan and Iraq – that American troops would
remain in

Iraq for two to four years, Bush dismissed the question.

“He is trying to get me to put a timetable out there,”
the president said of the

panel member who asked the question. “I’m not going to
do it, see. And when the

timetable is busted they’ll say, ‘I told you.’
” Bush then acknowledged the

panel member’s tenacity, saying he received an
“‘A’ for effort.”

Discussing the Iraq war and terrorism, Bush suggested a more
descriptive name

for the war on terror.

“We actually misnamed the war on terror,” he said.
“It ought to be a struggle

against ideological extremists who do not believe in free society,
who happen

to use terror as a weapon to try to shape the conscience of the
free world.”

Bush’s reception from the crowd of minority journalists was,
at times, less

enthusiastic than it was for Sen. John Kerry, the Democratic
presidential

nominee, who addressed the same convention Thursday to hearty
applause.

“It was a different climate than for Kerry,” said Lori
Cheatham-Thomas, a

broadcast journalism student who attended both speeches. “We
weren’t cheering

(for Bush) . . . it wasn’t warm, but it was
respectful.”

Jack Chang, a reporter for the Contra Costa Times, said some
journalists in the

crowd mocked Bush as he spoke. But Chang said journalists who were
not writing

about the event should not be criticized for expressing their
reactions.

“Journalists have opinions on things . . . that’s how
it is,” he said.

Nicole Shum, a journalism student at the University of California
Los Angeles,

said the reaction to Bush in the overflow room, where she and
several hundred

other journalists watched the address on closed-circuit television,
was

“no-holds-barred laughing.”

“Whether that kind of discredits us as professionals . . . it
might,” Shum said.

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