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Dean: Move away from race quotas


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STEVEN SOLOWAY/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Toni Massaro, dean of the law school, speaks about affirmative action in the South Ballroom of the Student Union Memorial Center.
By Victor Garcia
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 23, 2004
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College admissions policies should look beyond race to academic qualifications, said the dean of the College of Law yesterday in a speech about affirmative action.

Toni Massaro, dean of the James E. Rogers College of Law, spoke to a crowd of about 100 students and faculty members, including President Peter Likins, about race and education as a part of UAdiscusses Diversity.

Diversity cannot be defined solely by race, and admissions policies should enforce that, she said.

Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the landmark Supreme Court ruling that desegregated schools, Americans continue to live in a race-conscious society, said Massaro.

A little more than a year ago, federal courts ruled the University of Michigan law school's admission practices were unconstitutional.

The university was criticized for giving minority students more consideration in the admissions process because of their ethnicity, Massaro said, a sign that educational institutions are still addressing a ruling made over half a century ago.

Massaro stressed belief in the idea that the Constitution is colorblind.

"We can only take (race) into account under very narrow circumstances," said Massaro, who often quoted Justice Clarence Thomas' statements from the Michigan ruling.

Massaro also discussed how to help all students succeed at the UA.

According to Massaro, with the rising costs required to teach a university student, there is no other choice than to increase education costs.

With money a big factor, especially for minorities, she stressed the goal should still be education.

"We are not going to protect our children adequately if we're not going to prepare them," said Massaro. "We set high standards here at the University of Arizona, and we should expect high standards."

According to Massaro, whites are twice as likely as minorities to have a bachelor's degree in Arizona.

Business sophomore Nick Jaquemard said he believes affirmative action should always be evaluated.

"I think we should get more minority students in here," Jaquemard said. "We should focus on it and not phase it out."

Others in the audience were happy that Massaro was willing to address an important topic for those in minority communities.

"Hopefully it brings attention to the idea that there can be things done," said Augustine Romero, director for Mexican-American/Raza studies in the Tucson Unified School District. "Things must be done to improve the academic outcome of minority students."



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