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Remnants of Segregation Found in College Systems : U.S. Calls for Rights Law Steps in 6 States

February 11, 1988|Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Education William J. Bennett said Wednesday that six Southern and Border states are still in partial violation of federal civil rights law and must take further steps to rid their college systems of the remnants of segregation.

Bennett said his department has found four other states, Arkansas, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia, in full compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

He asked the governors of the six states--Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma and Virginia--to send him written assurances within 90 days that, by the end of this year, they will carry out desegregation measures they had agreed to previously.

The action was the latest turn in federal efforts that stretch back nearly 20 years to force states that once segregated their colleges by law to improve traditionally black institutions and open doors for minority-group students and faculty at traditionally white campuses.

Calls for Physical Repairs

Most of the steps that the six states must take involve physical repairs, renovations or construction of facilities at traditionally black colleges. Relatively few involve commitments or actions by the states' flagship universities, where black enrollments still lag behind blacks' share of the population, officials said.

Bennett acknowledged that none of the states had met the goals and timetables for minority recruiting and hiring that they agreed to in 1978 desegregation plans, but he emphasized that those goals were never intended to be quotas--not even under the Jimmy Carter Administration, which drew them up.

"The country has changed" in the last 20 years, Bennett said. "In any one of these 10 states, a black student who graduates from high school has opportunities to go to college and will find, if he has qualifications, many institutions eager to have him."

Bennett said also that, in his view, there was not much difference between the four states in compliance and the six in partial violation.

Agreements Not Met

"It is not a suggestion on our part of either rampant racism or bad faith, (but) simply that things that were agreed to have not yet been done," he said.

Bennett added that he was "especially heartened by aggressive minority student recruitment measures" and by physical improvements on the black campuses.

Missouri Gov. John Ashcroft said: "It is simply an unfinished agenda, and we can't allow it to be unfinished. We are going to have to re-evaluate the plan to make sure that it satisfies the requirements by the end of the year."

H. Dean Propst, the chancellor of Georgia's university system, said his state's deficiencies "will not be difficult to eliminate."

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