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UC San Diego Medical School Takes No Blacks for Fall Class

Education: With affirmative action ban in effect, there are also no Native Americans and far fewer Latinos.

August 01, 1997|AMY WALLACE | TIMES EDUCATION WRITER

None of the 196 black applicants to UC San Diego's School of Medicine has been accepted for the fall entering class, as compared with seven acceptances last year and 11 the year before, officials said Thursday.

Twelve Latinos were accepted, down from 42 last year. But only five of those students plan to enroll in the 122-member first-year class--as compared with 16 who enrolled last year. And not one of the 27 Native Americans who applied was accepted, officials said.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday August 5, 1997 Home Edition Part A Page 3 Metro Desk 2 inches; 60 words Type of Material: Correction
UC medical schools--An article in Friday's Times misstated some admissions statistics at the UC Davis School of Medicine. The school has accepted nine black students to date for entry to its first-year class, down from 11 last year. Five have said they will enroll, however, up from none in 1996. Twenty-two Latino students have been accepted, three of whom have said they will enroll. Last year, seven Latino students enrolled.

According to preliminary figures that may change slightly over the next month, the number of blacks, Latinos and Native Americans accepted at two other UC medical schools--Irvine and San Francisco--is also dropping. But the tally of so-called underrepresented minority students who were admitted to UCLA and UC Davis medical schools is slightly higher than last year.

The new statistics are only the latest fallout of the UC regents' ban on affirmative action, which ended consideration of race and gender in graduate and professional school admissions this year. In June, UC's law schools reported diminishing minority enrollment--at UC Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law, not one of the 14 black students admitted this year decided to enroll.

Health care experts, citing studies that show that black and Latino doctors are far more likely to deliver care to underserved communities, said Thursday that the medical school numbers have more serious implications for society than the reports of fewer blacks and Latinos enrolling in UC law schools.

"This isn't just going to have disastrous consequences for minority communities, which it will," said David Wellman, a UC Santa Cruz professor of community studies. "When the bills come due--when the underserved minorities are forced into public hospitals' emergency rooms--those costs are going to be paid by the taxpayers."

Timothy Ready, an assistant vice president at the Assn. of American Medical Colleges, which counts 125 medical schools and most major teaching hospitals among its members, agreed.

"Racial and ethnic diversity [among medical students] is essential for quality health care," he said, adding that with fewer black and Latino students, "where in the world are 'majority' medical students going to learn about the practices, the culture and the beliefs of minority communities to give them the sensitivity they need?"

But Jennifer Nelson, executive director of the American Civil Rights Institute in Sacramento, took issue with the suggestion that diversity can only be achieved through reinstating racial and gender preferences.

"These numbers show that race clearly has been such a huge factor in admissions," said Nelson, whose group was co-founded this year by UC Regent Ward Connerly to promote the elimination of racial preferences. "This is fundamentally a debate about do we go back and continue a wrong or go forward and see how to correct things? Clearly there's some hard work that needs to be done to get certain groups of kids better prepared."

UC's five medical schools use a "rolling admissions" process, offering admission to groups of applicants, then waiting to see how many accept before admitting more. That means they will not have final class numbers until the day orientation begins--as late as mid-September for some schools. But Robert Resnik, dean of admissions for UC San Diego's medical school, said he doubted that its numbers will change much--and that no black students are likely to be admitted in the coming weeks.

"That will stick because we don't have any [black students] high enough on the wait list," he said.

Resnik said he fears that minority students will find the UC system to be a "hostile environment" in the wake of the regents' action. "I don't know of any great university in the country that does not have diversity," he said, echoing health experts' fears that fewer black and Latino medical students will mean an erosion in quality care for those communities. "We don't need any more cardiologists in Westwood and La Jolla. We need more people in South-Central Los Angeles or in the barrios of San Diego."

Even with affirmative action, the number of minority medical students was quite small: Over a two-year period--1993 and 1994--UC's five medical schools combined graduated 117 black, Latino and Native American doctors.

Although affirmative action gives preferences to some candidates who don't have the highest test scores, those who were admitted wound up doing very well at UC San Diego, Resnik said. The graduation rate of underrepresented minorities there was 97%, he said, 2 percentage points higher than that of majority students.

"Opponents of affirmative action may argue that we have lowered the bar for some of these students, but the standards once they're here are no different. We're tough," the medical school dean said.

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