By Sarah Roy
Delegate Caleb Zhang presented his bill to the Farabee Senate at the Texas State Capitol. In Zhang’s bill he proposed to eliminate automatic admission in colleges throughout the state of Texas. The delegates saw that this topic needed mindful deliberation and the intense debate that followed took on a variety of issues connected to the bill.
The idea behind Zhang’s bill was to open up college admissions to a more holistic point of view outside of the top 6 percent and 10 percent threshold, which would also open up a more diverse pool of applicants. This review would give the college the option to consider ethnicity, family circumstances, extracurricular talents, test scores, socioeconomic status, and other characteristics of a student during admission review. It would also be a more thorough way to review the applicants outside of just their GPA. The delegates immediately began to debate this bill, questioning Zhang on the context of it. He addressed issues such as the effect it would have on scholarships, claiming that most scholarships are currently merit-based, and how high schools would grade their students as class ranks would also be eliminated along with automatic admission because there would be no need for the percentage threshold applied by high schools.
“Most high schools outside of the state of Texas actually have stopped ranking students so the restructure of class ranks to a point based system would be and is known to be an effective change,” Zhang said.
Other concerns with the bill were mentioned, specifically involving the number of applications submitted to colleges in Texas and what system universities would use to admit students without automatic admission still being in place. Zhang remained able to address each of these concerns effectively.
After questioning Zhang’s bill, delegates who found faults proposed amendments that they believed would add clarity and security to it. Penalties and enforcement dates were debated as well as the inclusion of specific word choices. One delegate found an issue with the use of the word “ethnicity” in the bill, claiming that affirmative action already covered this and there was no need for its inclusion.
Zhang opposed this amendment saying, “by including it [ethnicity], it’s not requiring colleges to use race as a factor in the admission process, but it gives them the option to”.
This amendment was ultimately not adopted and debate continued among the delegates as they began to look at the pros and cons on the matter. There were many points made in terms of the opposition, as delegates made claims that it would not increase diversity, but instead decrease it, as no matter what ethnicity a student is, if they were in the top 6 or 10 percent they would still receive automatic admission. Another concern mentioned was that test scores would not be a substantial factor in the admission process.
“A test such as an SAT that takes three hours should not compare to the four years of a student’s high school career,” a delegate said.