Posted on May 12, 2005

Officials Defend Class Enrollment Restrictions

Jared Paben, Oregon Daily Emerald (U. of Oregon), May 12

When senior Stephanie Ramey tried to sign up online for Math 243 Calculus for Business and Social Science for spring term she was denied access and informed she would have to contact the class professor.

The professor asked her to contact the Office of Multicultural Academic Support about enrolling in his class.

A staff member at the office said she couldn’t register for the class because she doesn’t identify as a minority, Ramey said.

Ramey, who tried to get into the section because it was the only one available, was told that if she wanted to be in the class, she’d have to show up at 7:45 a.m. Monday, the first day of classes, and meet with an adviser before she could enroll, she said.

“I guess I was just really surprised and irritated because I thought I had a right to get into the class too. . . I guess I felt a little bit discriminated against,” Ramey said. “For a sophomore math class, I shouldn’t have to wait just because I’m white.”

Ramey attempted to enroll in one of six University classes this term that reserve the first 10 slots in an 18-student class for minority students, while requiring others who want to get into the class to arrive on the morning of the first day of class and meet with an adviser before being allowed to register for the remaining eight slots. The OMAS pays for and controls three lower-division math and three lower-division English classes that allow fewer enrolled students and provide more individualized instructor attention. While other sections of Math 242 and Math 243 this term have an average of 115 students for lectures, 29 students for discussions and 35 students for integrated classes, the OMAS classes had a maximum of 18 students. The general Writing 121 and Writing 122 sections had an average of 25 students per class, and the OMAS sections were again restricted to 18 students.

Linda Liu, advising coordinator and academic adviser for OMAS, said the classes are meant to offer a safe haven for minority students and give struggling students a chance to work more closely with professors.

But Edward Blum — senior fellow at the conservative Virginia-based Center for Equal Opportunity, which monitors education policy and has filed complaints with the federal government about race-exclusive programs at universities across the nation — said the policy is illegal.

“I can say it 10 different ways, but it’s illegal, and the Department of Education will shut this down if it’s brought to their attention,” Blum said.