THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON ALUMNI MAGAZINE
THE ROAD AHEAD
"The experience in California suggests this will be a major challenge," says Morris, the vice president for student affairs. "The enrollment numbers in California are dismal. We don't know yet how to proceed on admissions. But outreach will be a key factor."
"The University is committed to expanding significantly its programs for outreach," adds McCormick.
Given the makeup of the state of Washington, outreach is critical. Its pool of ethnic minorities is less than a fifth of the size of the minority population in California.
Once again, the UW has an impressive record when it comes to outreach. The Early Scholars Outreach Program, for instance, is a partnership between the Office of Minority Affairs and eight middle schools located throughout the state of Washington. The program provides students with tutorial sessions and mentoring.
Another example is the Samuel E. Kelly Scholars Center, located in Seattle's Central Area. Named in honor of the UW's first vice president of minority affairs, and funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the center provides academic support and tutoring for high school students belonging to groups underrepresented in higher education. It also provides training for the SAT test.
And there is the UW's Upward Bound program, a federally funded outreach effort providing support services to first generation and economically disadvantaged high school students at two Seattle high schools.
Other UW's outreach programs-such as the Educational Talent Search Program, Middle College High School, High School Tutor/Mentor Program and TRIO Training Program-encompass a wide array of efforts in Washington state and the Pacific Northwest. Faculty work with communities throughout the state in everything from helping Seattle schools develop a comprehensive on-line network to WWAMI, the School of Medicine's program that trains medical students and encourages them practice in rural settings.
UW Vice President for Minority Affairs Myron Apilado (center) and students (from left) Willie Sahme, Cynthia Sim, Aaron McCray and Lorne Murray have concerns about what I-200 means to the University. Photo by Mary Levin.
The UW also maintains close relationships with community and technical colleges as a way of attracting students from all backgrounds and cultures, helping prospective students learn the ropes when it comes to preparing for college.
While the UW has already taken steps to maintain diversity, some folks around the state aren't fully aware of the University's efforts. "Native Americans have asked me if they are still welcome at the University," says Gene S. Magallanes, director of the minority science and engineering program in the UW College of Engineering, which receives backing from IBM, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Science Foundation to attract underrepresented minorities.
Magallanes, who recently spent time on the Yakima Indian Reservation recruiting students, fears that in the UW College of Engineering alone, the number of minority students enrolling could drop as much as 40 percent.
Meanwhile, UW officials are redoubling their efforts to get the word out that minorities are welcome-and that the University will do everything under the law to serve them.
"It would be chilling if students weren't even applying (because of I-200)," says Enrique Morales, director of admissions/recruitment for the Office of Minority Affairs.
"One of the most important things to do is encourage students," adds Washburn, the admissions director. "Some students who would have been regularly admitted and are well prepared to study are questioning whether they will have access to the UW.
"We have to communicate somehow with students and families that opportunities still exist at the UW. We have six public colleges in the state of Washington that offer a wide array of academic opportunities, plus 32 community and technical colleges. Half our graduates at the University are transfer students who spent their first year or more at other schools."
Washburn and other admissions officials also point out that federally funded programs remain untouched by I-200.
With its new diversity advisory committee and expanding outreach efforts, the UW is trying to preserve and enhance the diversity that has helped make it one of the premier institutions of higher education in the country. Still, some ethnic minority students are concerned about the future.
"I came here from a tiny school on an Idaho reservation," says Willie Sahme, a senior who hopes to study mechanical engineering. "I always had to struggle to keep up. Now I feel like I can compete. Without the EOP programs, I wouldn't be here today. I didn't get enough math or other subjects in high school. These programs gave me the chance to come here. But I don't know what the future holds."
Adds Aaron McCray, a junior business major: "A lot of people are losing faith in the system to look out for those of us who don't have everything. I thought legislation like I-200 would pass in Louisiana, Alabama or Mississippi. I never thought it would pass in a state like Washington."
McCormick has never wavered in his stance on diversity. "The University's commitment to diversity remains strong, and my own personal commitment is very deep. Academic excellence and the health of our society both depend on our educating a diverse citizenry," he says.
"I doubt that we will ever look back at the passage of I-200 as a good thing. On the other hand, we can say it caused the UW to recommit to diversity, thereby improving the education for everyone." * Jon Marmor, '94, is associate editor of Columns.
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