by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Shannon Watkins’ latest Martin Center column chides the University of North Carolina System for its quick action on changing admissions rules.
It is a common saying that one should “never let a crisis go to waste.” Last week, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors exemplified this principle when they met last-minute to discuss changing admissions standards.
For months, members of the UNC Board of Governors have been contemplating a drastic change for admissions—one that would grow its possible number of applicants for UNC schools by 20,000.
Currently, in order to be eligible to apply to any UNC system institution, applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 (a “C” average) and an SAT score of 880 (or ACT score of 17). The proposed revisions, approved by the Committee on Educational Planning, Policies, and Programming, would make it so that applicants would have to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 or an SAT score of 1010 (or ACT score of 19).
The full board was set to vote on the proposed admissions changes on March 20, but the vote was tabled due to urgent matters surrounding the coronavirus. Given that in-person meetings have been canceled for the foreseeable future, it seemed that an important decision regarding minimum admissions standards would also be delayed.
That was not the case. On March 30, the board met by conference call to discuss and vote on the minimum admission requirements (MAR) policy. Board members were notified of the meeting four days before it occurred.
The purpose of the meeting, however, wasn’t simply to address overflow items from the March meeting. On the contrary, board leadership specifically wanted to vote on the admissions policy because testing for the SAT and ACT has been canceled or postponed due to the pandemic. …
… But, unlike the UC system, the UNC system is not looking to make SAT or ACT scores temporarily optional. Instead, system leaders urged the board to pass and immediately implement the MAR policy proposal for the current admissions cycle—which is concerning for several reasons.
For one, it’s entirely unreasonable—even opportunistic—for board leaders who have long voiced support for the MAR proposal to take advantage of a national emergency to attempt to slip through a permanent policy change.