Letter to the President of the University of Dayton re: Online Admissions Policy

Media 04.3.01

Recipient: Raymond L. Fitz, President, University of Dayton

April 3, 2001

Raymond L. Fitz
University of Dayton
Office of the President
300 College Park
Dayton, OH 45469-1624

Dear President Fitz:

On behalf of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, I write to you seeking additional information about the proposed policy change by the University of Dayton to accept only electronic applications in the University’s admissions process by 2002.

By way of background, LCCR is a coalition of more than 180 national organizations representing people of color, women, children, labor unions, persons with disabilities, older Americans, major religious groups, gays and lesbians and civil liberties and human rights groups, committed to the protection of civil and human rights in the United States.

LCCR recognizes the tremendous potential that access to and utilization of advanced communications technologies offers in the emerging digital age, particularly to underserved populations. We also recognize the advantages that may be leveraged from the effective deployment of information technology in the digital age. We are concerned, however, that some uses of information technology may have inadvertent results and adversely affect under-served populations making it even more difficult for these populations to succeed.

As one of the premier institutions of higher learning in the nation, we know that the University of Dayton shares our commitment to the realization of a society based on equal opportunity for all. This commitment is reflected in the University’s Statement of Dignity, “No person shall be…denied equitable consideration for access to employment and the programs, services, and activities of the University.” That is why we read with much interest (and concern) reports that the University was implementing an exclusive electronic applications policy for first year students who intend on enrolling for the fall 2002 semester (see enclosures).

Absent in those reports was any information as to how the University reached this decision as well as what considerations have been made for those who may be adversely affected by this decision, most notably those who often lack access to technology including poor people, individuals with disabilities and

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those students with limited English-proficiency. Attempts to gather this information from the University’s web site were unsuccessful beyond the mention of a single report cited in the press release.

While we celebrate new initiatives and programs that utilize information technology to increase equality of opportunity for all, we believe that technology should be deployed to broaden inclusion and break down barriers, not for erecting new barriers. Our concern is that without adequate safeguards, an exclusive electronic admissions process may, in fact, narrow opportunity for some and ultimately close the doors of opportunity for those on the wrong side of the digital divide. That is why we are seeking additional information as to how this decision was made.

We know that the University of Dayton will continue its long-standing tradition of serving the diverse groups within the University community and that it will ultimately embrace an admissions policy that promotes equal opportunity for all persons. Any materials that you may provide to better educate the civil rights community about how these decisions will not negatively impact equal educational opportunity would be most appreciated.

I will follow-up this letter with a phone call in the next few weeks to discuss this matter further. In the mean time, please feel free to contact me at 202-466-3311.


Wade Henderson
Executive Director