Buried in the annual Coast Guard authorization act passed this week by Congress is wording that would strike from the U.S. Code the statement that all appointments to the Coast Guard Academy “shall be made without regard to the sex, race, color or religious beliefs of an applicant.”
Under current federal law the academy is “race neutral,” but the change would put it on the same footing as other colleges and universities in balancing its enrollment by admitting students from specific groups.
The other military service academies admit students by congressional nomination, while the Coast Guard Academy has traditionally admitted students on the basis of academic merit, like civilian colleges and universities.
Lawmakers, often critical of the lack of diversity at the academy, were attempting to increase the diversity of the student body by bringing the school’s admissions process in line with those of the other service academies. But they backed off that proposal, and it was not included in the compromise version of the act.
Now it appears they are giving the academy some latitude to diversify its student body and meet their expectations.
Students from racial and ethnic minority groups made up 24 percent of the class of 2014 at the start of this summer. But the percentage of minorities in each class has traditionally hovered around 15 percent. The school has fared better with women, who typically make up about 30 percent of each class.