Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, July 21, 2021, Page 2, Image 2

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College applications
soar because of
optional test scores
Address: P.O. Box 13009, Salem, OR 97309
Phone: 503-399-6773
Fax: 503-399-6706
Web site:
Lindsay Schnell
Navigating the application
Melanie Urgiles considered Johns
Hopkins University a “reach” school.
The first-generation Latina student
from Sleepy Hollow High, 25 miles out-
side Manhattan, wasn’t sure she’d get
in, considering John Hopkins accepts
just 11% of applicants. But when the se-
lective university announced it was go-
ing “test-optional” and wouldn’t require
SAT or ACT scores for applicants, Ur-
giles decided she’d take a chance. And
she was far from the only one.
College applications soared for the
2021-22 school year as thousands of
students took advantage of relaxed test
score policies during COVID-19. Ameri-
ca's colleges, on average, experienced a
jump in applications of at least 11% – in-
cluding public, private and selective
universities, plus historically Black col-
leges. That’s according to Common App,
which provides a one-size-fits-all appli-
cation to more than 900 colleges and
At selective schools – where the ac-
ceptance rate is typically less than 50%
– the spike was largest: Applications in-
creased by an average of 21%.
“The silver lining of COVID is that
many of these selective institutions had
historically diverse application pools,”
said Jenny Rickard, CEO of Common
App. “The pandemic underscored the
importance and value of higher educa-
tion. People who were able to work from
home or keep their jobs, for the most
part, had college educations.”
Urgiles was elated when she got her
Johns Hopkins acceptance letter. The
17-year-old, who hopes to work in health
care, applied to 15 schools with the help
of her college coach, getting into eight.
For her, optional test scores weren't just
a pleasant surprise but a necessity as
the pandemic led to the cancellation of
every SAT test within driving distance.
“I would be curious to see my SAT
score if I could have taken it,” Urgiles
said. “But at the same time, I don’t think
students should be confined to what a
standardized test says about you.”
Like other schools across the nation,
the University of Oregon is seeing a
"positive trend" in students applying
and interest in attending this coming
school year, although the official enroll-
ment numbers won't be known until af-
ter the fourth week of fall term, said UO
spokesperson Saul Hubbard.
This fall is the first year UO made the
SAT and ACT optional for students to
submit as part of their application, and
it's the first term since winter 2020 that
students will be able to attend their
classes fully in-person on campus.
"We believe there are a number of
reasons for this, including our return to
primarily in-person instruction and ac-
tivities for fall term, as well as our SAT/
ACT test optional policy," Hubbard said.
"But the pandemic adds a number of
variables on where our enrollment may
be this fall."
Continued from Page 1A
ing 2020. These events included the
growth of the Black Lives Matter move-
ment following the murder of George
Floyd, the COVID-19 pandemic and the
2020 presidential election.
Reports about events of bias against
Black people spiked in the summer of
2020, corresponding to the Black Lives
Matter movement. The frequency of an-
ti-Asian bias spiked in spring 2020, at
the beginning of the pandemic in the
Events related to extremism also
grew in September and October, right
before the presidential election.
The latter half of 2020 saw a 134%
surge in reported incidents compared to
the first six months of reporting in 2020,
said the report.
Ken Sanchagrin, executive director of
the CJC, notes that the surge is “almost
certainly a combination” of reflecting
national spikes of bias-motivated
crimes and the increased awareness
that the hotline existed.
“We know that when there is a lot of
publicity around the hotlines them-
selves or as we bring more community
organizations on board certainly we ex-
pect to see an increase,” Sanchagrin
Without a baseline, Sanchagrin said,
it is impossible to know for sure if the
increase in reports was due to publicity
or a true increase in bias crimes.
Government cited as perpetrators
More than 30% of the reporters men-
tioned that the government was in-
volved in the perpetration of reported
According to a table describing vic-
For some students, navigating the
application process was a little more
simplified because of the option of not
including ACT or SAT test scores.
In Houston, Nathaly Martinez said
she didn’t think college was an option.
After giving birth in February to a baby
girl and opting to spend the entirety of
her senior year of high school in virtual
learning, Martinez figured she’d have to
go into the workforce immediately.
A conversation with her guidance
counselor convinced her that it couldn’t
hurt to apply. Once acceptance letters
started rolling in, “it motivated me and
gave me more faith in myself,” Martinez
“Having a daughter, she pushes me
even more,” she said. “I want her to see,
‘I had you, and I still went to school. I
made it.’ I want more for her. Yes, it’s go-
ing to be hard, but in the end, it’s worth
Martinez will enroll at Houston Com-
munity College in August. She got into a
handful of four-year state schools, but
HCC made the most financial sense. She
plans to study nursing.
In Portland, Evelyn Minjares-Carrillo
spent all of her senior year in distance
learning. There was no school counselor
to stop in the hallway and ask for help
with applications. She often turned to
Google. Minjares-Carrillo applied to 26
colleges, including Harvard, taking ad-
vantage of the test-optional movement.
She wasn’t upset to miss the SAT.
“I couldn’t take it, then I was advised
to skip it because it wasn’t needed, and
it wasn’t necessary to spend the time
studying,” said Minjares-Carrillo, who
will start at Oregon State University in
the fall and plans to major in public
“It’s not built for people of color or
low-income students," she said about
the SAT, "so why even try?”
That’s a common attitude about
standardized testing. Rickard said one-
third of Common App’s 1.2 million stu-
dents sought to be the first in their fam-
ily to attend college, and many of them
applied to schools that might have pre-
viously seemed out of reach.
“We need a revolution,” she said.
“This is our moment to do it. The college
admissions process has been so en-
trenched and immovable for decades.
But COVID showed us things can
“This is an opportunity for us to look
at ourselves and ask, ‘What are we do-
ing to prevent access to college, and how
can we change it?’”
Increased exposure, increased
Khari Davis said he was “stalking”
the University of California system,
waiting to see whether its colleges
would go test-optional.
Davis, 18, is from Tallahassee, Flori-
da, but always dreamed of attending
school in the Golden State. He had his
tim/offender relationships, of the 1,101 re-
ports made, 343 incidents involved the
Of these, 149 were perpetrated by law
enforcement (14%).
City officials were reported as perpe-
trators in 93 reports, or 8% of all reported
incidents. The other reported perpetra-
tors included neighbors (9%), employers
(2%), landlords (2%), service providers
(1%) and acquaintances (1%).
Perpetrators were categorized as “oth-
er” in 204 reports (19%), unknown in 71
reports (6%) or were not reported in 236
(21%) reports.
Strangers made up 22% of the perpe-
trators of the 1,101 reported bias incidents.
Procedure outlined in the report ex-
plains that advocates provide various
services and support to victims, includ-
ing providing information about the
criminal and civil justice systems, refer-
rals to victim service programs and other
community and government programs
that can provide further resources and
“Advocates may also follow-up with
systems such as law enforcement to ad-
dress concerns and issues if the victim
requests,” the report explained.
Even if a witness or victim is reporting
a law enforcement officer or government
employee, hotline officials said the report
would not be treated any differently than
any other report.
“If somebody is calling about law en-
forcement or government, the response
would still be victim-centered,” ex-
plained Kristina Edmunson, the commu-
nications director for the Oregon DOJ, in
an email.
“We talk about options available de-
pending on the type of bias and who the
perpetrator is. Does the victim want to
report it to law enforcement? Does the
agency have processes for reporting this
(they often have specific forms online),”
Edmunson added.
News Director
Don Currie
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Melanie Urgiles was pleasantly surprised to find out she was accepted at
Johns Hopkins University. COURTESY MELANIE URGILES
eye on UCLA. His college adviser, a
family friend, told him he should
send in his scores, because schools
“would be thinking about it subcon-
“She said if it came down to two
students, and one sent in a test score
and one didn’t, they were going to
pick the one who did," Davis said. "I
sent them in because I want to make
myself competitive.”
Davis got into 15 of 16 schools he
applied for, including UCLA. After
conversations with family and
friends, he decided instead to attend
Howard University, a historically
Black college in Washington.
Howard, which accepts 32% of ap-
plicants, is one of the selective
schools experiencing a spike in appli-
cations. According to Common App
data, applications at HBCUs jumped
13%, but Common App works with
just 13 of the nation’s more than 100
If an individual decides to report an
allegation against a police officer to
their department and doesn’t feel the
department addressed it properly,
there are additional resources.
Salem’s Community Police Review
Board conducts external reviews of
complaints against Salem Police De-
partment employees. If a person is un-
satisfied with the results of an internal
police investigation, they may initiate a
Community Police Review Board re-
The Oregon Department of Public
Safety Standards and Training is an-
other option in these cases, Edmunson
38% increase in reports to law
The report also detailed the bias
crimes reported by state police. This
data is part of the Oregon Uniform
Crime Reporting Program housed at
Oregon State Police. The UCR Program
receives crime information that law en-
forcement agencies statewide are re-
quired to report.
In 2020, a total of 377 bias crimes
were reported to law enforcement, an
increase of 38% compared to the 273
crimes reported in 2019.
Like data from the hotline, race and
color was the most frequent motivation
in the crimes. Of the 377 crimes report-
ed, 207 were motivated by the victim’s
Lane County had the highest num-
ber of reports at 71. Multnomah had 47
reports and Marion County had 40.
Polk County received eight reports.
Of the 377 incidents reported to law
enforcement, at least 78 resulted in ar-
rests. Most of the arrests (33) were for
assault bias crimes. Intimidation led to
17 arrests and aggravated assault led to
At Hampton University in Vir-
ginia, another selective HBCU, appli-
cation numbers were up 39% – a
surge Angela Nixon Boyd, the dean of
admissions, didn’t see coming.
“It was crazy,” Nixon Boyd said. “I
thought we would see fewer applica-
tions because of the pandemic creat-
ing a lot of economic issues for fam-
ilies. The predictions were that a lot
of students would perhaps not go to
college because they felt they’d need
to go into the workforce right away.
But we saw something different.”
Nixon Boyd, a Hampton graduate,
attributes the barrage of applications
to a number of factors. From Beyon-
cé’s Coachella performance in 2018
that celebrated traditional HBCU
drum lines to Vice President Kamala
Harris' status as a Howard graduate,
from philanthropists giving HBCUs
See COLLEGE, Page 3A
Data from state police reveals an on-
going gap in the state’s official data. Da-
ta from the Bias Reporting Hotline
showed “very few” counties with zero
reports of bias incidents. State police
data, however, showed “large numbers”
of counties with no reported activity of
While the number of cases with bias
crime charges has risen steadily since
2017, advocates know that there are
many victims who do not report for “any
number of reasons.”
The report points to the establish-
ment of trust within communities as a
potential reason why victims turn more
frequently to the hotline.
“Many bias victims have endured
and been scarred by repeated bias vic-
timization throughout their lifetimes
and perhaps have never had a safe place
to receive support for their experiences,”
stated the report.
“Moving forward, it may be beneficial
to focus some of the state’s efforts into
exploring this apparent gap, and assess-
ing how it might be narrowed,” the Ore-
gon Criminal Justice Commission wrote
in its report. “In addition, even reports
to the BRH may fail to uncover bias
crimes against individuals who are vic-
timized but do not report for any num-
ber of reasons.”
Looking towards the future
In addition to continuing to train law
enforcement to properly document, in-
vestigate and prosecute bias crimes, the
hotline will also focus on minimizing the
lag in response to hotline reports.
While a majority of the reports were
made via the DOJ’s website (40%), 343
reports were made via telephone. Half
of those calls went to voicemail.
“Sometimes people do not call us
See HATE, Page 4A