Bush Launches New Civil Rights Initiative
1 April 2001
Washington, April 1.. In a stunning development today, President Bush announced a new civil rights initiative that would redress what he called "the worst kind of quotas." Standing alongside IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti and Acting Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights William Yeomans, Bush pledged to prevent colleges and universities from discriminating in favor of sons and daughters of alumni.
"Preferences for children of alumni could undermine all the efforts that my administration has made in making college admissions truly color-blind," said President Bush. Echoing language from the campaign trail, he urged colleges to "engage in affirmative access, a fair shot for everyone, and end to the soft bigotry of the worst kind of quotas. Let's give disadvantaged students a better crack at the piñata of education."
Assistant Attorney General Yeomans criticized so-called "legacy preferences" as continuing past wrongs. "The parents and especially grandparents of many college students attended college when overt discrimination was the norm," he said. "We cannot and must not allow continued discriminatory behavior just because it makes alumni happy."
Commissioner Rossotti outlined a new regulation project in the IRS aimed at hurting discriminating colleges where it hurts, by removing their tax exemptions. The project will concentrate not only on colleges that engage in racially discriminatory legacy preferences, but also on those that appear to overly reward their donors. He explained that "nonprofit educational organizations cannot exist for the purpose of enriching their donors. We will be examining whether admission offers depended on large donations."
President Bush is a graduate of two schools that his father attended, Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and Yale University. He dismissed a reporter's question about incongruity between his past and the new policy, saying, "My father's and grandfather's money, name, and prestige had nothing to do with my education, other than paying the tuition bills. Any kid with a 566 verbal SAT score can get into Yale." Officials at Phillips Academy and Yale University were not available for comment.
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