So you want you or your kid or that cousin wearing the ankle monitor to get into The University of Texas at Austin. You’ll have better luck with Harvard, Yale or the College of Cardinals. Better yet, become a state official, endow a chair (and table, too, the profs need them) or simply move to Fargo. I shall explain. In the never-ending saga of power moves in the hierarchy of The University of Texan at Austin, hereafter known as The University, UT, the 40 Acres or Chaos-on-the-Colorado, power was, indeed, moved, i.e., President Bill Powers was moved – out of his job.
In addition, the chancellor of the UT System left for his old position as a pediatric coronary surgeon, feeling that it was easier repairing a newborn’s heart than wresting with the UT regents, legislators, alumni and fat cat donors who – in the immortal words of former regent Frank Erwin — want a school the football team can be proud of. You may know the rest: legislative inquiries, a regent censored, criminal investigations and, worst of all, last fall’s 6-7 season. Almost as an afterthought, it was revealed that President Powers overruled the school’s admissions officers to let otherwise unqualified students enroll. The president explained these under-achievers, who leapfrogged over more qualified applicants, were the scions of legislators, important alumni and those who donated enough to get their names on campus buildings. Powers and other top academics said that this end-run is common among “selective” universities.
The new chancellor, Adm. William (I shot Bin Laden) McRaven took the bold type of action and leadership one would expect from a Navy SEAL: He formed a committee to look into the matter. It is made up almost entirely of former UT presidents and chancellors, who may not dig too deeply into this mess if the perpetrator’s actions were traditional.
While they are sorting through the express lane for those with SATs of 400 or less, I have the solution to getting into UT, aka known as The Diversity of Texas. Yes, diversity is the hot word among not only universities but boards of directors, editorial staffs and the cast of “Saturday Night Live” (big scandal there awhile back). Even TV ads are subject to review. I heard one comic boast, “I am the one black guy in every beer commercial.” This diversity situation is particularly touchy at UT, which has been fighting in courts for decades over the school’s policy of giving special weight to applicants who are minorities, from ghettoes or whose parents are economically challenged — hobos, ISIS suicide bombers and college professors. So the Longhorns go the extra yard (oh, if only they could on fourth and one) to make the campus a UN Assembly.
The solution? You can add to your application some references: Michael Dell or Houston Endowment. Mention casually, “I turned down the NBA,” or “My aunt, who is chairwoman of the Texas Senate Higher Education Finance Committee, hopes I can be accepted.” There is another way, which I call the North Dakota Syndrome. Some background: This year UT has 52,713 students and of these in the freshman class, American Indians and Hawaiian Pacific Islanders each make up 1 percent. Blacks are 4 percent as are foreign students. Hispanics are 21 percent and whites come in at 45 percent. Get this: while Asians only account for 3.8 percent of Texans, they are 23 percent of the UT freshman student body and that percentage is rapidly growing. (At this point some wag will ask: “Shouldn’t they be going to Rice? Hahaha.”) “Others” make up the rest. The school, as do most “selective” institutions, proudly proclaims its young scholars hail from everywhere. Students represent all 254 counties in Texas, all 50 states and 115 foreign countries. Brochures for the school show a rainbow of smiling students.
Tilt. Does UT really have at least one student from all 254 Texas counties, including Loving out in West Texas? That county has a population of 95, with 38 percent of them18 years or younger and 10 percent 65 or older. That leaves about – help me here, math is not my strong point – 50 or so residents of whom at least one attends UT and rest are shepherds? No way. What probably happened is that some wannabe Longhorn in Houston or Dallas, who thinks Bevo is one of the Marx Brothers, simply put down a PO Box in Loving as his or her return address. That was enough, because Loving County has absolutely no blacks, Hawaiians or Asians.
This brings us back to the North Dakota Syndrome, and you can see where I’m going with this. Among residents from the other 49 states in its freshman class, California leads, followed by Illinois, New York and New Jersey. How many are from North Dakota? I’m not sure, but I hear he’s sick and may go home. One percent come from Hawaii or the Pacific Islands. That, too, is a thin base. Aloha and Hook ‘Em. American Indians may qualify as Eskimos, so sign you application, Igloo Mukluk, Nome, AK.
There is a slight drawback to my plan. Remembering that today student debt tops $1.3 trillion, in-state tuition and fees at UT are $9,798 (2014-15); out-of-state tuition and fees are $34,722 (2014-15). That’s a big difference but can be overcome. I know one young lady who lived her whole life with her divorced mother in Illinois, but put on her UT application that she lived with her father in Houston, and was accepted with in-state tuition. Or you can just put down that you were brought here as a child illegally from Mexico. You, on the Dream Team, go to the head of the line. For this last term there were 8,362 out-of state applicants. Of these, 2,302 (or 28 percent) who applied were accepted but only 39 (6 percent) enrolled. Those in the last group were Croatian Falklanders from Fargo who could go the extra yard.
Olaf Mobutu Ashby is enrolled at email@example.com