Tennessee Universities Defend Diversity Programs

College presidents in Tennessee are defending their programs meant to diversify their student bodies. They worry about an effort to outlaw any preferences on the basis of race or gender.

Universities are already barred by federal law from giving minorities a leg up in the admittance or hiring process. But there are efforts to attract certain under-represented groups.

Board of Regents Chancellor John Morgan says a summer program is meant to make sure black males stick with their college plans after high school graduation.

“I don’t know whether it is a preference or not," he says. "But I do know that is a group that struggles.”

The legislation comes from activist Ward Connerly, who is African American. He is a former university board member in California, where he helped pass a constitutional amendment intended to keep minorities from getting special preference.

After two hours of discussion, the Senate Education Committee put the bill off for a week.

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