Despite Blue Ribbon Commission’s reccomendation, administration is firmly saying ‘no’
A clash over academic standards between the Colorado Commission on Higher Education and the Blue Ribbon Commission has produced mixed reactions on campus.
The CCHE, the governing board that sets the academic guidelines for incoming freshmen, decided two years ago to raise the standards for CU. The changes, which were implemented this semester, include requiring incoming freshmen to take specific courses during high school, such as four years of English and three years of math.
The Blue Ribbon Commission met for the last time Sept. 29. After that meeting, they recommended the university disregard the higher standards because they could potentially hurt enrollment numbers for under-represented students.
The commission worried that the new standards would be “counterproductive to the goal of improving CU’s diversity,” said Carmen Williams, the assistant vice president for diversity.
“It was kind of disappointing because they made the decision, but only half of the BRC showed up,” said senior MCDB major Karen Shimamoto, the inter-campus liason for the Student Outreach and Retention Center for Equity and a student commissioner on the BRC. She said the commission almost unanimously supported the recommendation.
The CU administration supports the new standards and will continue to actively recruit minority students who meet them, said CU spokesman Barrie Hartman.
“We would rather go out and find the minority students who can meet our requirements rather than opening the admissions window to allow students who might fail at CU,” Hartman said. He also said the university worries that some students would be unable to meet standards at their high schools.
“The university’s concern is that some of the rural school districts do not have the resources to teach some of the requirements from the CCHE,” Hartman said.
Student groups had mixed reactions to the new standards; some supported them and others spoke out against them.
“(The standards) bring in more people with a better background and more knowledge, and it helps our university,” said Neal Walia, a freshman political science major and member of the South Asia Student Association. “It shouldn’t be a question of race. If you don’t have the resources (to meet the standards), you don’t have the resources.”
Another SASA member agreed.
“Regardless of race, the university needs to recruit qualified students,” said Jisha Jacob, a senior majoring in integrated physiology.
Other student groups thought the standards would block some students from entering the university.
“CU should lower their academic standards, because the higher your standards, the less people get in. By raising the academic standard, you exclude minorities,” said Malaea Spencer, a senior psychology major and president of the Aloha Club.
“CU is a rip-off, and if I didn’t have in-state tuition, I’d be out of here,” Spencer said. She said she was disappointed that CU did not participate in the Western Undergraduate Exchange, a program that allows certain students to pay in-state tuition rates at other universities outside their home state. She said that CSU and UNC support the program and questioned why CU does not.
Members of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán, also known as MEChA, said they disapprove of the administration’s support of the new standards and said that CU does not adequately fund programs that increase diversity.
“CU needs to put its money where its mouth is,” said Federico Rangel, a history, ethnic studies, and psychology major. Rangel is a member of MEChA and is a student commissioner on the BRC.
“I don’t think he’s listening to his own creation,” Rangel said, referring to CU President Hank Brown’s support of the new standards. “If (Brown) wanted recommendations from the BRC, he needs to listen to them.”
“This is institutional racism,” Rangel added.
The two groups said that K-12 education needs to improve, and districts that already had trouble meeting the previous CCHE requirements now have more obstacles in the way to helping students attend college.
“It starts in kindergarten. Kids need to understand that college is not just a possibility, but a place they belong,” said Mark Montoya, a junior business major and SORCE events coordinator.
MEChA member Guadalupe Loredo said she was frustrated with the CCHE’s decision to raise standards, but that she thought the move will motivate minority communities.
“If they’re trying to keep us out of the university, they’re not doing a good job,” Loredo said.