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October 1, 2008

Report Accuses Arizona Law Schools
Of Bias Against White Applicants
Chronicle of Higher Education

The Center for Equal Opportunity plans to issue today a report accusing the law schools of both Arizona State University and the University of Arizona of systematically rejecting white, Asian, and Hispanic applicants in favor of black applicants with substantially lower grade-point averages and admissions-test scores.

In a statement accompanying the report, Linda Chavez, the center’s chairwoman, says “the degree of discrimination we have found here, at both schools but especially at Arizona State, is off the charts.” The center’s analysis of student data from the law schools concludes that — controlling for year of admission, test scores, grades, state residency, and sex — the odds ratio favoring black applicants over white ones at Arizona State’s law school exceeds 1,100 to 1, while the ratio favoring black applicants over white ones at the University of Arizona’s school exceeds 250 to 1.

Shelli Soto, dean of admissions and financial aid at Arizona State’s law school, said on Tuesday that the school was “acting within the confines of all legal restrictions” on its consideration of race in admissions. “We absolutely stand by the integrity of our admissions policy,” she said.

The Center for Equal Opportunity, which has a long history of issuing reports accusing colleges of discriminating against white applicants, said in its latest statement that it also had analyzed undergraduate and medical-school admissions at the University of Arizona “but found less statistical evidence of discrimination there.”

Critics of affirmative action had hoped to put a measure banning the use of race-conscious admissions before Arizona voters this fall, but they failed to gather enough valid petition signatures to get their proposal on the ballot. —Peter Schmidt