For nearly three decades, University of California law and medical schools have been committing consumer fraud by failing to acknowledge that some black and Latino applicants are given preferential treatment, a lawsuit filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court this week contends.
The lawsuit, filed by Tarzana attorney Allan J. Favish, does not seek to eliminate racial considerations from the UC admissions process. But in a new twist in the growing affirmative action debate, it contends that the UC system violates state business codes by requiring a $40 application fee without divulging the importance of an applicant's race.
"This is a truth-in-advertising suit," Favish said. "Generally speaking, if you are a B or C student you are wasting your money applying to UC law and medical schools if you are white or Asian, while if you are black or Hispanic you have a realistic chance for admission. I want the University of California to tell prospective applicants the truth before it takes their money."
The lawsuit seeks to force the nine UC law and medical schools to print tables in their application materials breaking admissions statistics into categories of grades, test scores and race. It also asks the schools to reimburse the $40 fee, plus interest, to all applicants denied admission since 1967--about the time, Favish says, that such racial considerations became policy.
Favish's lawsuit comes at a time when affirmative action policies statewide are being attacked by Gov. Pete Wilson.
Wilson signed an executive order last week eliminating about 150 programs he said cumulatively constitute a "vast system of preferential treatment" for minorities and women. Although UC and other colleges and universities are not directly affected by the order, Wilson implored the university's regents to consider abolishing its affirmative action programs as well.
Terry Colvin, spokesman for the office of the UC president, said the system's admissions process meets all federal and state laws, and that the lawsuit is myopically focused on a small portion of the criteria considered in weighing applicants.
"We've made no secret that race is part of the admissions process," Colvin said. "Providing the kind of information Mr. Favish wants [printed on application materials] would imply that test scores, grade-point average and ethnicity are the only criteria used in admission. Those are only three among a dozen or more."
Favish graduated from the university's Hastings College of Law in 1981, after being rejected in 1977 by the UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Davis law schools, he said.