Military academy backs affirmative action

March 14, 2003

One US university that may fall foul of President George W. Bush's opposition to affirmative action is run by the federal government itself, Jon Marcus writes.

The US Military Academy at West Point sets an enrolment goal for black students of 10 to 12 per cent, even though President Bush has opposed this practice in legal briefs filed in the case of the University of Michigan.

West Point includes George S. Patton and Douglas MacArthur among its alumni. Although it does not give extra points to applicants from minorities, it uses a strategy of aggressively recruiting such students who already meet the school's standards.

Although they will not discuss the issue in detail, academy officials said it was important to achieve racial diversity among the officer corps. But legal officials say the academy's policy would be outlawed if the Supreme Court rules the way the president wants it to in the Michigan case, which was brought by white students denied admission to law school.

The administration also steered clear of taking a position on West Point's admissions process. Justice department spokeswoman Monica Goodling said the only admission system the department had reviewed was Michigan's. She declined to comment on any other school.

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