Only ten months have passed since the Department published the report entitled Race-Neutral Alternatives in Postsecondary Education: Innovative Approaches to Diversity. In that time, however, three things have become clear. First, we know that educational leaders are overwhelmingly committed to achieving diversity throughout the American educational system.The president of the United States has encouraged this commitment,and the Supreme Court has affirmed its importance.Second, we understand more clearly the limitations that the U.S. Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 place on the extent to which racial preferences can be used to achieve this goal.These limitations have received considerable attention lately, but we now know that most institutions that seek student diversity do so without relying upon racial quotas or preferences.Third, we know that many institutions around the country have developed and are now implementing innovative programs and policies to enhance student diversity that do not depend upon racial considerations. Some institutions use "developmental approaches," which are designed to diversify student enrollment by enriching the pipeline of applicants equipped to meet entry requirements and achieve academic success. Other institutions use "admissions approaches," which are designed to diversify student enrollment through admissions policies and procedures. This report, which revises and expands our March 2003 report, discusses examples of both approaches. The report is not intended to be exhaustive.
President George W. Bush has said that diversity is one of America's greatest strengths and has encouraged the development of race-neutral alternatives to achieve diversity in educational institutions. Diversity, broadly understood, gives students an enriching insight into the lives and worldviews of a wide variety of people. Exposure to students from different backgrounds gives students a larger context within which they may analyze competing views. There is no substitute for allowing young people the opportunity to exchange ideas with others who have talents, backgrounds, viewpoints, experiences and interests different from their own.
Educational institutions at all levels embrace the value of diversity. A recent survey of 451 colleges and universities by the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) found that the vast majority of responding colleges--74 percent--acknowledge a commitment to diversity of some form in their mission statement.As demonstrated below in Figure 1, 68 percent of colleges are guided by mission statements that encourage a racial and ethnic mix of students on campus.Sixty-four percent of those mission statements also included a commitment to increasing other forms of diversity.