Race-conscious admissions still needed to raise enrollment

Your Feb. 3 editorial, "Color-Blind Admissions," says that the number of black freshman at Texas A&M increased from 158 in 2003 to 213 in 2004 - a rise of 35 percent in a total freshman class of 7,068.

What is missing here? You have the total freshman enrollment for 2004, but not 2003.

You should also include the numbers for first-time transfer students to get a complete picture of new black students at A&M.

Here's the number of black students (freshmen and transfers combined) as a percent of all new students:

1999 2.3 percent
2000 2.2 percent
2001 2.6 percent
2002 2.4 percent
2003 2.2 percent
2004 2.7 percent

So from 2003 to 2004, there was a minuscule 0.5 percentage-point increase in the proportion of new black students.

The above numbers tell us that university president Robert Gates's "aggressive minority-recruitment program" has been a dismal failure in a state whose population is 11.6 percent black.

We are now one-and-a-half generations into the remediation of over 200 years of subjugation and terrible prejudice directed at African-Americans. It is not unreasonable at this point to include race as a factor in university admissions. As the Texas A&M experience shows, race-conscious admissions remain necessary to get the job done.
Michael R. Quigley
Harrisburg, Pa.

Defeat terrorism with ... talking?

Thanks to the Feb. 4 article "Koranic duels ease terror," Yemeni Judge Hamoud al-Hitar's treatment of Al Qaeda members in Sanaa Prison seems to have done a great deal to improve Western views of Islam - treating prisoners with dignity while challenging their terrorist actions, which are not justified by the Koran.

Perhaps there's a message here for more Christian approaches in the West's treatment of terrorists.
Richard Finch
Palo Alto, Calif.

We have been fighting so long with our fists that we sometimes forget that the easiest way to get out of a conflict is to use our minds and voices. This is the single most important thing to do when battling extreme views. Simply killing people off leads to a cyclical battle, whereas open conversation can get to the root of the problem.

I am so glad to see that Judge Hamoud al-Hitar has been able to exercise the patience and respect needed to communicate between human beings.

I believe that if we hear of more of these types of attempts made before conflicts arise, our country will become far more united in the struggle for freedom.
Coralee McCarter

Realizing our common goals

The Jan. 25 article "Iranian women, scaling new heights, eye Everest" is a real boost not only for those women who are aspiring to reach Everest's peak but also for women everywhere who are aspiring to reach peaks in all areas of their lives.

However, this unusual glimpse of Iranian women serves another, even more pressing need. By seeing Iranians engaged in following their dreams, we are reminded that Iranians are ordinary human beings like ourselves. We see them here not as enemies but as people with a goal we can appreciate and admire.

We need more opportunities to see each other as potential friends rather than as enemies to be feared. Fear of people of different countries, different religions, and different languages must be challenged with the understanding that we are all connected.
Barbara Coan Houghton
McFarland, Wis.

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