AZ's Affirmative Action ban's effect on the UA - Tucson News Now

AZ's Affirmative Action ban's effect on the UA

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing Michigan voters to ban race as a consideration for university admission is sending ripples through the higher education system.

Arizona voters approved a similar ban in 2010, but the University of Arizona has managed to buck the trend that is happening at universities in other states that have Affirmative Action bans.

Arizona voters approved a proposition that ended the consideration of race, ethnicity, gender or national origin in public university and college admissions.

University of Arizona officials were concerned, at the time, what it might do to the image of universities and community colleges in Arizona.

They say they did suffer a backlash.

"It was a scary time thinking that folks from out-of-state might not be as willing to come to Arizona," says Dr. Kasey Urquidez, University of Arizona Associate Vice President, Student Affairs and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions.

"We wanted to make sure that we were able to still bring in a very diverse class. We know students learn better from each other when they can have a diverse group of students around them."

"We got phone calls. We got letters from people that were very scared and thought Arizona is not for me. So we had to combat that and really talk to people to help them see that. Once we combated that a little bit, word of mouth starts to travel that--okay, the universities are a good place and it's going be okay. So we were able to rebound a little bit," Urquidez says.

She showed us a chart that shows UA minority enrollment in the fall of 2010 at 32% of total enrollment.

It was at 36.30% in the fall of 2013.

She says women student numbers have increased across the country.

Urquidez says the UA has worked hard to maintain a diverse campus without giving preferential treatment to minorities or women.

She says the university expanded its outreach to prospective students and parents, with a special emphasis on keeping diversity on campus.

She says specific programs and groups can target any prospective students.

She uses the example of the Society of Women Engineers that conducts programs designed to recruit women to study engineering, a field dominated by men.

"It's not using gender or ethnicity in the decision-making process," Urquidez says. "So that's really what's stopped. But being able to do some active recruitment of women for the College of Engineering, for example, still does take place. They're able to do some outstanding programs," Urquidez says.

"We host events that are open to everyone, but we make sure that we are really having staff from our different cultural centers, or opportunities for people to connect and see themselves on our campus," Urquidez says.

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