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State universities need uniform admission policies

If Mississippi is to have an equal public university system,more money will be needed for the state’s historically blackuniversities — that fact is not disputed.

Talks to settle the Ayers desegregation lawsuit put the pricetag at around $500 million. That includes endowments to attractstudents of other races to the historically black schools.

What must be remembered in settlement talks, though, is that theeight schools must strive to be equal academically as well asfinancially.

To the consternation of some plaintiffs, the presiding judge hasmaintained tougher admissions standards for the schools in line toreceive the added funding. Policies for accepting students at thetraditionally black schools have been lower than the standards atother universities.

The importance of strict, across-the-board admissions policiesfor all the universities cannot be understated. The judge rightlyrealizes this.

Academic achievement ultimately relies on the amount of energyand effort an individual student is willing to put into the pursuitof a college degree.

But, watered-down admissions standards lead to a watered-downquality of degree.

That, in turn, contributes to a school having a poor academicreputation as far as the caliber of graduates it turns out. If ittakes little to get into a school on the front end, the theorygoes, a degree from that school must mean little on the backend.

If the goal is a truly equal public university system, enforcinguniform admissions standards is a major step in the journey. And,it must be one that all parties are willing to take.