The superintendent for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point defended racial admissions goals while denying that the academy has quotas for race or gender at a hearing Wednesday.
Indiana Rep. Jim Banks pressed Lt. Gen. Steven Gilland on the difference between a “quota” and a “preference” in admissions at a hearing on diversity, standards and freedom of thought at military academies, but the Army service academy superintendent did not answer the question. Instead, he defended the academy’s diversity goals after Banks revealed a West Point report describing “race-based composition goals” that Republicans have described as divisive and distracting from warfighting priorities.
“What’s the difference between a preference and a quota?” Banks asked.
“We don’t have quotas,” Gilland said. “We have goals to meet as I stated with regards to leader goals, categories of young men and women as regards to background,” as well as goals for the composition of scholars, leaders and athletes, he said.
Leaders at West Point, the Naval Academy and Air Force Academy said they were still assessing the legal implications of the ruling. They declined to explain how, if at all, policies would change if the court expressly applied the decision to military service academies.
Banks presented a chart from a 2017 report to the academy’s Board of Visitors describing in detail the composition goals for classes up to the class of 2020, including goals related to racial categories black, Hispanic and Asian.
“We have class composition goals. If we don’t meet them, we don’t meet them,” Gilland told Banks. He confirmed that West Point has not abandoned the practice, setting composition goals for the most recent incoming class graduating in 2027.
“Those goals are established on the basis of the composition of our officer corps. We would like our graduating classes to look similar to the officer corps,” he said.
Charles Q. Brown, Biden’s nominee for Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, told Congress this month he set demographic accessions goals based on the general population of the United States.
However, this may not always have been the case, according to a copy of the document obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
— CSPAN (@cspan) July 19, 2023
The percentage goals of African-American accessions increased over time. In 2015, USMA targeted a class comprising of 12% to 15% African-American and achieved a class that was 10.7% African-American. By 2019, the proportion of admitted African-Americans hit a high of 15.1% but slumped again to 13.8% in 2020, despite a stated goal of greater than 14% African-Americans for each year.
Goals for Asian and Hispanic students were set at or below their respective share of the U.S. population for each year, and the percentage goals did not match the proportion of Hispanic officers, the document showed.
‘We have goals. We have composition goals,” Gilland reiterated.
Vice Adm. Sean Buck, in contrast to Gilland, said that the Naval Academy’s recruiting efforts have supported increased diversity. “We do not have race-based composition goals at the Naval Academy,” he said.
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