Law Schools

Group Hits Affirmative Action at UW Law School; Protesters Storm News Conference

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More protests erupted in Wisconsin on Tuesday, this time over a study (PDF) that saw reverse discrimination at work in admissions at the University of Wisconsin’s law school and undergraduate college.

The Center for Equal Opportunity released the study results at a press conference on Tuesday interrupted by about 100 protesters, the Wisconsin State Journal reports. They chanted “power to the people!” and “more than our scores!” prompting center president Roger Clegg to pack up his briefcase and leave, the story says. Afterward, protesters took over the microphone to share stories of diversity. Police were called, but there were no arrests.

On Tuesday evening, Clegg debated the wisdom of affirmative action with UW-Madison law professor Larry Church. There was some hissing and booing, but Clegg was able to speak, according to the Althouse blog. Students who asked questions “sounded passionate but not irrational,” the blog reports.

The law school study examined admissions data for the years 2005 and 2006 after the Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered its release, the National Law Journal reports. In 2006, the law school admitted 43 percent of black applicants, 39 percent of Hispanic applicants, 18 percent of Asian applicants and 24 percent of white applicants. Forty-three percent of the rejected whites had LSAT scores and grades that were higher than the median for black admittees. “Admission officers essentially reach down into the applicant pool and pull up certain students,” the study says.

University of Wisconsin law dean Margaret Raymond defended the school’s admission’s policy in a letter to students, the NLJ story says. She said the school benefits from a diverse student body. “It is necessary to look at everything about a candidate, ranging from veteran status to foreign travel experience to volunteer activities, and everything in between,” she wrote. Race and ethnicity are also taken into account, she said, along with “the life experiences those characteristics may denote.”

The Center has more information in a press release.

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