The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Wednesday, June 19, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

Panel Hosts Racial Preferences Discussion

The discussion began with a summary of the legal role that race historically played in college admissions.

Senior Lindsay Reed, who is in charge of special events at the Campus Y, organized the event.

Reed said she made this a part of the celebration of racial integration in honor of students who wanted to apply to UNC 50 years ago but could not. "I have so much empathy and respect for these students that were willing to challenge something unjust," Reed said.

About 35 students attended the discussion, which was led by the two-member panel. Professor John Boger from the School of Law and Herb Davis, associate director of undergraduate admissions, were the panelists for the event.

Boger began the discussion with a summary of the historical and legal aspects of racial preference in college admission. He spoke of affirmative action cases in the past and said he thinks racial and cultural diversity help build a student body.

"When you're selecting a class, you're building a society," Boger said.

Davis said UNC's mission statement makes recommendations about things a campus should do when selecting a freshman class.

He said UNC admissions looks at students as individuals and does not just rely on test scores and extracurricular activities.

Davis explained that each student is reviewed individually in 18 to 25 areas, including courses, grades, extracurricular activities, leadership, public service and background.

Davis said the University does not use affirmative action, but he said many students are admitted into UNC for reasons such as being athletes, children of alumni and in-state residents.

Admissions counselor Carol Ben-Davies said affirmative action can be demeaning to minority students.

"All you students are here because you're supposed to be here," she said. She said graduation rates for minority students match up with graduation rates for the whole class.

"It hurts too bad to hear that minority students think they are here for their race," Ben-Davies said while crying.

"I just hope that people will take something back to their environment where people really think that."

But sophomore Tre Arhagba said he refuses to tell himself that he does not belong at UNC, regardless of his race.

"I don't think I allow affirmative action to be a crutch, but I'd be lying if I said in this day and age, it's not necessary," he said. "We've earned our places at this University."

Davis said UNC is different from schools that use formulas -- based on criteria such as test scores and class ranks -- to give value to admissions characteristics.

Instead, he said applicants are looked at individually and in terms of the quality of their high schools. "You compete within your environment."

Freshman Phabienne Parker said she thought the panel was interesting. "As far as affirmative action in colleges, I think it is not necessary," she said. "Some students may need it but I believe black students could get in without it."

Reed said she learned from the panelists. "These are two very distinguished figures who know their areas of the University," she said. "Also, hearing UNC's criteria for admitting students from Herb Davis dispelled some myths.

"I hope students tell other people about what they learned tonight."

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.

The University Editor can be reached at

Special Print Edition
The Daily Tar Heel 2024 Orientation Guide