NARRATOR Tuition-free and funded by the federal government, the University of Brasilia's sprawling campus has long been a training ground for Brazil's future leaders.
NARRATOR Until quotas were implemented, the student body here was up to 98 percent white - though whites are barely half of the overall population.
MULHOLLAND The denial of racism is one of the ways people fight the quota system.
People say, "Everyone is happy!"
"We have soccer and carnival."
And while this is going on, the blacks pile up in the slums and jails.
And the university that should be for everyone is reserved for an elite white minority.
YVONNE MAGGIE This policy will not produce equality in higher education.
This policy will produce a society divided into whites and blacks.
NARRATOR Professor Yvonne Maggie was the driving force behind a petition signed by more than 100 artists and academics who argue that Brazil's experiment with U.S. style affirmative action will inevitably lead to U.S. style racism.
YVONNE MAGGIE Brazil has struggled to be a society that is not defined by race.
But this tradition is being undermined by the new legislation because the new legislation creates two groups with different legal rights.
And when you do this, you pit one group against the other.
NARRATOR To participate in the quota program, applicants must do something most have never been required to do - identify themselves as black.
KARINNY Look, 21 places under the quota system.
GIRL You have to sign up as a black, then go have a photo taken to see if you qualify for the quota.
KARINNY A lot of kids from private schools do this, while kids here don't know about it.
I'm going to see if I can "pass" as a black.
IOLANDA I think you're going along with something you are really against, just because you think you'll benefit.
KARINNY No, I'm not against the quotas.
IOLANDA You think it's a good thing then?
A system that divides people into black and white?