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Attorney: Supreme Court Ruling Will Not Change N.C. Policies

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CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A U.S. Supreme Court ruling that allowsrace as a factor in university admission decisions is consistentwith policy already in place in the University of North Carolinasystem, a lawyer said Monday.

"It seems to me that the practices in use at UNC are consistentwith the opinion," said Leslie Winner, vice president and generalcounsel of the University of North Carolina system.

"Not all of our campuses use race in admissions, but thosecampuses that do consider race consider it with a broad range ofdiversity factors," Winner said.

None of the 16-campuses in the UNC system uses the point systemthat the Supreme Court declared invalid in the Michiganundergraduate case, she said.

Admissions policies at UNC-Chapel Hill, UNC Wilmington, North Carolina State and Appalachian State consider race, but "they all do it aspart of a broader commitment to diversity and none of them use apoint system," she said in a telephone interview.

Justices said in a divided decision that universities can giveminority applicants an edge in admissions, but that race can't bethe only factor.

The court preserved the rules outlined a generation ago in alandmark ruling that struck down quotas but allowed subtler formsof affirmative action. Monday's rulings mean that race-consciouspolicies in place in institutions as diverse as military academiesand women's studies courses will probably remain in force.

Writing for the majority in the 5-4 ruling upholding anaffirmative action program at the University of Michigan's lawschool, Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said the value of diverseclassrooms extends far beyond the campus.

"Effective participation by members of all racial and ethnicgroups in the civic life of our nation is essential if the dream ofone nation, indivisible, is to be realized," O'Connor wrote.

At the same time, the high court voted 6-3 to strike down aseparate point system used by the University of Michigan'sundergraduate school.

The ruling affects tax-supported schools, and by extensionprivate schools and other institutions, that have looked for waysto boost minority enrollment without violating the Constitution'sguarantee against discrimination.

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