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Students seek voice in admissions
By Rivkela Brodsky
New Mexico
Daily Lobo - News
Issue: 11/17/04

Even though students at the law school have been accepted, they were concerned enough about the admissions process to organize a forum Tuesday night.

Denise Chanez, president of the Mexican American Law Student Association and one of the organizers of the event, said it was a dilemma they struggled with while putting the event together.

"We did get in, and we have the responsibility as students of color to make sure that other students of color have the same opportunities," she said. "It matters to us who sits with us in classes."

She said having different viewpoints in the classroom is important to making them good lawyers.

A coalition of student groups organized the event so students would have a voice in the admissions process, Chanez said.

"It lets faculty know we care too," she said.

Law school faculty traditionally determine the admissions policy, which is why students felt they had no voice in the process.

Suellyn Scarnecchia, dean of the school, congratulated students for putting the forum together. She was one of four speakers who served on a panel at the forum.

The admissions committee is made up of five members - three faculty members who are nominated by the dean of the school, the dean of admissions and a student elected by the student body. The number of members on the committee is determined by a faculty vote.

The law school receives about 1,000 applications each year and 110 to 115 are accepted, said Susan Mitchell, dean of admissions.

Priority is given to New Mexico residents - 85 to 90 percent of applicants accepted are state residents.

All resident files go the committee. Mitchell and the chair of the admissions committee Michael Browde review all nonresident files.

Mitchell said the school receives a higher number of nonresident applications to the school than resident applications.

The application process is straightforward.

An applicant must have a bachelor's degree prior to enrolling, one letter of recommendation, a personal statement, pay a $40 application fee and provide LSAT scores. The deadline is Feb. 15 for the application and the target deadline for supporting documents is March 16.

Mitchell said they begin looking at applications in November, although committee members heavily review files from January to April. Members review around 50 applications a week.

Each committee member has an equal vote, and each applicant is ranked on a scale from one to five, with five being the most competitive. Mitchell said applicants with a score of 20 to 25 are sent acceptance letters and those with scores of 10 or less are sent rejection letters.

A waiting list is created, but no one from the waiting list was accepted last year.

A student's LSAT scores and GPA are looked at but are not the main determining factors.

"This school doesn't use any presumptive cutoff that relies on GPA and LSAT scores," Browde said