Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Virginia Tech reverses course on race and sexual orientation, waits Supreme Court decision

On Sunday, the Virginia Tech Board of Visitors voted to reverse its recent policy changes, bringing back race as admissions factor and restoring protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation, by a 8-5 vote as reported here. According to the Collegiate Times, The board members who voted to rescind the earlier action were: Bruce Smith of Virginia Beach, Thomas Robertson of Roanoke, John Lawson of Newport News, Ben Davenport of Chatham, Philip Thompson of Richfield, Conn., T. Rodman Layman of Pulaski, Jacob Lutz of Richmond, and Beverly Sgro of Asheville, N.C., while those who voted against rescinding the March 10 action were: Rector John Rocovich of Roanoke, Vice Rector William Latham of Manassas, Donald Johnson of Salem, Ronald Petera of Toano, and Mitchell Carr of Waynesboro.

The reversals were the result of the first non-unanimous vote in recent memory, according to this report in the Roanoke Times, which notes that some on the Board favored no action if a unanimity could not be obtained.

Affirmative action will remain an issue at Tech, according to this report in the Washington Post, which says BOV chairman and Roanoke attorney John Rocovich has vowed race-neutral policies in areas other than admissions.

One basis for the Attorney General Jerry Kilgore's position that Tech could not consider race in admissions was a 2001 agreement between the Commonwealth and the Office of Civil Rights of the U.S. Department of Education, which declared that Virginia colleges and universities were integrated, as reported in this Roanoke Times article. "In the settlement, the department acknowledged that a three-year review of Virginia's system found 'no lingering vestiges of historical discrimination,'" according to an AP story published here.

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