New data released by the University shows the incoming freshman class will likely see a slightly greater number of minority students in its ranks this fall.
The University has seen a 12.8-percent increase in black applicants and a 7.3 percent increase in Latino applicants compared with last year. The University has also seen a 15.5-percent increase in black acceptances and 12.4-percent increase in Latino acceptances, according to the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
While full data on the freshmen class will not be available until October, as of last week 6,597 students paid enrollment deposits. Last year, 6,571 students had paid deposits, yielding 6,040 enrollments, the largest freshman class in the history of the University.
Chris Lucier, associate director of undergraduate admissions, attributes the increase in minority enrollment to new strategies the University has adopted over the last year to attract minority students.
Among these procedures used to attract minorities, Lucier said videos were sent to every minority student after they had been accepted to welcome them to the University. Radio advertisements sponsored by the University were broadcast in areas with large minority populations, and University President Mary Sue Coleman spoke at black and Latino churches.
The University suffered a decline in minority enrollment following the 2003 U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down the points-based system for the College of Literature, Science and the Arts. Race can still be used as a factor in admissions, but not in such a system.
Lucier said the goal of the University’s campaign was to continue to promote diversity at the University and to increase minority enrollment.
“Diversity is important … to the quality of the education here at the University. Last year we experienced a drop-off in undergraduate minority enrollment, so this year we tried hard to get those numbers back up,” Lucier said.
Jennifer Gratz, executive director of the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative said she disagreed with the University’s efforts to promote racial or ethnic diversity.
“(Admission to the University) should be based on merit, character and ability, and (the University) should not be using race as a factor in admissions,” Gratz said.
However, Lucier defended the University’s use of ethnicity as an admission factor, arguing that ethnicity is only one of many things the admissions committee considers in an applicant.
“Diversity is represented by ethnic diversity — but also socio-economic backgrounds, geographic origins, and spiritual interests — all of these factor in to the admissions process,” Lucier said.
Gratz said she worried that the campaigning the University is using to improve minority enrollment, indicates that race is playing too large a role in the admission process.
“The real question to the University is, how big a factor is race playing in admissions right now?” Gratz said.