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Survey: Most against race-based admissions

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NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Americans want universities to be more racially diverse but they oppose favoring minorities for admission based on their race alone, a survey showed on Monday.

The Marist College Institute for Public Opinion poll found that 85 percent of those polled think college students at diverse universities are better prepared to live and work in society. But 80 percent of respondents opposed using race as a factor in college admissions.

"The American public is somewhat conflicted on this issue," said Dennis Murray, president of Marist College. "Even minority groups feel that race alone should not be a deciding factor in who is admitted and who is not."

Sixty percent of African-Americans surveyed opposed race-based admissions, along with 76 percent of Latinos and 83 percent of respondents who were white.

The survey's findings come as the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether controversial affirmative action policies that favor minorities for college admission should be struck down as discrimination.

The Supreme Court's decision on policies that favor minorities at the University of Michigan, which are similar to those at many other schools, could shape the future of affirmative action programs that help minorities gain admission to universities.

President George W. Bush has said the policies amount to a "quota system that unfairly rewards or penalizes prospective students based solely on their race."

The poll showed the strongest support for the use of old criteria like high school grades, scores on college entrance examinations, recommendations, and students' leadership records to decide whether they gain admission.

Marist polled 1,003 U.S. adults across the country from January 27 to 31. It said the survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percent.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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