June 17, 2013

The June 12 news article “Most in U.S. oppose race-based admissions” presented poll results that claim an overwhelming majority of Americans oppose allowing colleges to use race in admissions decisions. Unfortunately, this issue is far too complex to address with one poll question.

Colleges face a wealth of equally qualified applicants, and race is often used to choose from that too-large pool. It is the mission of every college to provide the most complete education possible for its students, and that cannot be accomplished without a broad range of diverse experiences and voices on campus. In order to build the best educational environment for its students, it is important for colleges to be able to consider the race of applicants.

I am sure that many who responded to the poll were expressing their views on the admission of less-qualified students based on race, and I can understand their opposition to that. If race is used to distinguish between equally qualified applicants, however, that may be not only appropriate but also mission-critical.

Thomas V. Berry, Alexandria