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KU expert: Supreme Court ruling in affirmative action case a narrow one

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, April 22, 2014, at 8:12 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, April 23, 2014, at 1:34 p.m.

What does the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Michigan case mean for Kansas?

First, keep in mind that it is a narrow ruling, said Richard Levy, a constitutional law professor at the University of Kansas School of Law. The issue, Levy said Tuesday, is whether a ban on affirmative action is constitutional, not whether affirmative action itself is constitutional.

What the ruling means, he said, is that Kansans could adopt a constitutional referendum banning affirmative action. The court is saying that it is “within the prerogative of the political process to say no to affirmative action,” Levy said.

So the nation’s top court is not weighing in on how colleges pick students.

Breeze Richardson, spokeswoman for the Kansas Board of Regents, said the six state universities – including Wichita State University – do not use race as a factor in undergraduate admissions.

The regents schools use what are called qualified admissions criteria. The criteria are designed to make sure that high school students are academically prepared for university classes, the Board of Regents says.

According to the board, the criteria basically say that someone graduating from an accredited Kansas high school is admitted if they meet one of these requirements: making an ACT score of 21 or higher, graduating in the top one-third of their class, or completing the pre-college curriculum with a GPA of 2.0 or higher.

Graduate school admissions standards are not set by the Board of Regents but by each university, so they vary, Richardson said.

“Graduate admissions tends to be a more holistic and in-depth process that deals with much more detail about the applicants and their academic pursuits,” she said.

Reach Tim Potter at 316-268-6684 or tpotter@wichitaeagle.com.

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