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10/03/95

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Casper makes statement on affirmative action

STANFORD -- President Gerhard Casper on Tuesday, Oct. 3, issued a statement affirming Stanford's commitment to diversity on campus, saying that students of varied backgrounds help further the university's educational mission.

"It is the responsibility of educational institutions such as Stanford to find and educate those who can become leaders of the future in a multiethnic and multiracial society," the statement reads. "Alas, our society is quite color-conscious and we therefore cannot yet afford to be colorblind."

In his statement, Casper emphasized that affirmative action as practiced at Stanford "does not require, and does not mean, quotas or preferment of unqualified over qualified individuals," and that admissions policies should not be vehicles for the redress of past discrimination.

"We do not admit minorities to do them a favor," the statement reads. "We want students from a variety of backgrounds to help fulfill our educational responsibilities, not, to my mind, to address the effects of historic discrimination, although that might be the result. University admissions offices are not set up to sit in judgment on what injustices society should compensate for and who should pay the price."

Nearly three months after the Board of Regents at the University of California voted to abolish affirmative action in admissions, hiring and contracting, Casper spelled out his views in a 14 page document addressed to the Stanford community. He underscored that his comments focused on "what Stanford is doing" rather than on the broad national political debate over affirmative action. For this reason, Casper's remarks are being published this morning, Oct. 4, in the Stanford Report and Stanford Daily, but have not been released more broadly in the media.

He will deliver his first official remarks regarding affirmative action to the Faculty Senate on Thursday, Oct. 12, at its first meeting of the academic year.

In the statement being published today, Casper notes that racial and gender stereotypes continue "to work against many who would otherwise be capable of taking advantage of opportunities at all stages of life." He also acknowledges, though, that locating and recruiting applicants from various walks of life does "diminish the opportunities for some, who, in the past, might have benefited from a narrower casting of nets or narrower definitions of merit."

But broadening considerations of merit beyond "scaleable" measures such as grades and standardized test results should never lead to admission of unqualified students, Casper says in his statement. "In the case of every person admitted, there has been a judgment that the applicant is 'deserving' and 'exceptional,'" he states. Special consideration is given to athletes, children of alumni, and to African Americans, Mexican Americans and Native Americans, he adds, provided they meet these requirements.

Dean of Undergraduate Admissions James Montoya said that Casper's statement regarding campus diversity "is very consistent with the way in which we currently practice admissions at the university. As a result, there is no need for change in our current program."

Montoya added that he has reassured those who fear that the recent decision at the University of California to abolish affirmative action programs might have a ripple effect at Stanford. He pointed out that Stanford's admissions process was extensively reviewed in the fall of 1993 by the Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aids. In its report to the Faculty Senate, Montoya said the committee fully supported the current selection criteria used in the admissions process.

In addition to Casper's presentation to the Faculty Senate on Oct. 12, a faculty-sponsored public forum, titled "Affirmative Action, the University and Beyond," will be held earlier in the day at Annenberg Auditorium. The 12:15 to 1:30 p.m. event is being co- sponsored by programs in feminist studies, Jewish studies, modern thought and literature, and African studies, plus the Committee on Culture and Cultures, the Office of Multicultural Education, the Center for Teaching and Learning, and the Office of Multicultural Development.

Organized in response to a call issued by students at the University of California for a "national day of discussion" on affirmative action, the forum will feature presentations by history Professors Camarillo and Estelle Freedman and law Professor Robert Weisberg, who also serves as vice provost for faculty recruitment and development. They will draw upon their research and their experiences at Stanford as they address the impact of affirmative action on women, African Americans, Chicanos and white men.

Sally Dickson, director of multicultural development will moderate the discussion and Renato Rosaldo, professor of anthropology and past director of the Center for Chicano Research, will respond to questions following the forum.

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