Hillel-sponsored Panel Urges Changes in Purdue’s Restrictive Entry Policies

Rabbi Gerald Engel, director of the B’nai B’rith Hillel Foundation at Purdue University, reported today that a faculty-student conclave had recommended to university president Fred Hovde changes in the school’s admissions policy which has been criticized as discriminating against out-of-state Jews and applicants of other minorities. The recommendations emerged from a weekend discussion on “The Morality of Purdue’s Admissions Policy” at the Hillel Foundation. Mr. Havde had asked for “constructive suggestions” for modification of the admission policy for out-of-state applicants after the university had come under severe criticism. Initially, Purdue University had rejected virtually all applications from students in the New York metropolitan area and New Jersey. Later, the university set a quota for both states but continued under criticism for the content of its form letter to applicants from the metropolitan New York area and from New Jersey. The blanket policy had been justified by the university with the contention it was trying to reduce the number of “disruptive campus outsiders” among its students.

Both faculty members and students recommended that the letter now being sent to New York and New Jersey applicants be revised because it discouraged such applicants and made it impossible for the university to fill its own established quota for the area, based on the populations of the two states. The quota system for the two states was introduced last Nov. 19 when Dr. John Hicks, assistant to President Hovde, advised Rabbi Engel that the blanket no-admission policy for the two states was being changed to allow admission to applicants other than sons and daughters of alumni of the school, few of whom were residents of the two areas. Rabbi Engel proposed to Dr. Hicks last January that the New York-New Jersey quotas be eliminated, and that all out-of-state inquiries about admission should be handled with a uniform letter and application forms. Last May, Rep. Leonard Farbatein. New York Democrat, called for a Department of Justice investigation of the Purdue University admissions policy and later introduced two bills in the House, one to curb discriminatory admissions policies in schools of higher learning and one to reward with additional federal funds schools admitting students without any discrimination.

Harland White, admissions director, told the meeting that for the fall of 1969 when no applications were accepted from the New York metropolitan area, as distinguished from upper New York state, and New Jersey, 25 qualified applicants from the two areas had been refused admission. But, he said, after a quota was set for New York state and New Jersey, no qualified applicants had been refused admission. Critics contended, nevertheless, that the present letter for applicants from the two eastern states discouraged applicants by implying that chances for admission would be slight for any persons other than children of Purdue alumni. The critics also said that while application forms are mailed routinely to applicants from all other states, those from New York and New Jersey receive only the criticized form letter.

The faculty members on the panel agreed that the university’s official letter to such applicants tended to discourage them from filing. Dr. Harvey Marshall, a sociologist, proposed the elimination of specific area quotas on admissions as not in the university’s best interests. He said the assumption that all given areas were similar in proportions of race, religion and ethnicity was false. Dr. William LeBold, director of engineering educational research studies, said that New York and New Jersey had improved their higher education systems to the point that their residents were no longer so reliant on out-of-state colleges. Dr. Howard Fromkin, a social psychologist, said that while there was no conclusive evidence of bias against applicants from New York and New Jersey, the admissions form letters were discriminatory in that they actively discouraged applications from some students. Dr. George McNelly, technology school dean, recommended that all qualified New York and New Jersey applicants be accepted within the limits of the university’s quota for out-of-state applicants. He said such applicants should receive application forms and be encouraged to file early.

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