In response to Proposal 2, the statewide affirmative action ban that took effect last year, University officials regularly distributed admissions data to the media to show the ban’s immediate impact on underrepresented minorities.

But this year, the University plans to withhold that information until after the end of the entire admissions cycle – possibly as late as mid-May.

University spokeswoman Kelly Cunningham said the University won’t be able to compile statistics because admissions officers are overworked.

“The admissions office is flat out busy right now, doing the jobs that they do,” said Cunningham, who said more admissions officers were hired this year. “They are doing amazing, time-consuming work. They’re working practically 24 hours around the clock.”

In the fall, the University introduced an Early Response program, which guaranteed an early admissions decision for all applicants who submitted an application by Oct. 31. Cunningham said the new system has meant more work for admissions officers, preventing them from being able to provide statistics.

“They’re trying to get back on a normal schedule right now,” Cunningham said. “It has changed the pattern with applications, admissions and decisions.”

The Early Response program guaranteed responses to all applicants by Dec. 21.

LSA junior Jessica Viera, the vice president of finance in Sigma Lambda Gamma, a Latina sorority, said the University’s reasoning sounded strange.

“I don’t think that’s a valid excuse,” she said. “It doesn’t make sense. (Proposal 2) is a continuing issue. It didn’t end last year. It’s still going on, and they shouldn’t be holding the numbers.”

Because of the heightened interest in the ban’s impact, the Office of Admissions made statistics available to the media following the passage of Proposal 2 to examine whether any admissions patterns took place. The Office of Admissions sent four cycles of statistics after Proposal 2 went into effect. The first cycle of data, given to the media in February 2007, showed a significant drop in the underrepresented minority admission rate.

The admission rate for underrepresented minority students who applied before the ban took place was 76 percent. Just 33 percent of underrepresented minority applicants were admitted after the ban took effect. At the Law School, the underrepresented minority admission rate fell by nearly 35 points to 5.4 percent after the implementation of Proposal 2.

Last year, University officials warned against reading too much into the drops, as the ban took effect in the middle of the admissions cycle, forcing admissions officers to judge applications using different sets of criteria.

The University has traditionally waited until April or May to release admission statistics, but chose to change that policy last year and in 2004 – the first set of admissions data after the University went to the Supreme Court to fight to keep its affirmative action policies.

Cunningham said the decision to compile admissions statistics later in the year has nothing to do with the University trying to shield prospective students from potentially damaging data.

“I wouldn’t jump to that conclusion at all,” she said.

The sole focus for the admissions officers, Cunningham said, is to finish making decisions on all the applicants – a process that will continue well into May.

“They’re trying to get through the file, and they aren’t stopping midstream to get numbers,” she said.

LSA junior Sheldon Johnson, speaker of the Black Student Union, said the University should release the statistics.

“Regardless of when they release the numbers, people are going to talk about it,” he said. “It’s 10 years later, and people still talk about the numbers in Texas and California. The numbers are going to be seen later anyway.”

California residents voted to ban affirmative action in 1996, and the state of Texas doesn’t use affirmative action in admissions.

Johnson said he doesn’t think the University is trying to hide the statistics from prospective students who would be turned off by low admissions figures for underrepresented minorities.

“The typical high school student isn’t looking at those numbers,” he said. “It’s more the parents of high school students and college students looking at them.”

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