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Prop. 209 Lands on UC

April 01, 1998

As the University of California selects its first freshman class since the implementation of Proposition 209, the predicted dramatic decline in admissions of black and Latino students is sadly coming to pass. UC President Richard C. Atkinson, UCLA Chancellor Albert Carnesale, UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert M. Berdahl and other UC leaders all have vowed to continue promoting diversity as part of a well-rounded education even as Proposition 209 prohibits racial, ethnic and gender preferences. But the numbers show that, so far, they have not met the challenge.

The profound drop in underrepresented minorities--primarily black and Latino--is steepest at the system's two most prestigious campuses. UC Berkeley admitted 191 black students to the incoming class, a drop of 66% from last year, and 600 Latino students, a plunge of 53% from last year despite continued increases in Latino enrollment in California schools. UCLA admitted 278 black students, down 43% from the preceding year, and 1,000 Latino students, a falloff of 33%. Now that the discouraging admission numbers are known, how many will actually enroll?

Though coveted at the top two UC campuses, many high-achieving blacks and Latinos are likely to take their gifts to Stanford, the Ivy League, Michigan and other campuses where the freshman classes intentionally will be more diverse. Aware of this possibility, UC officials and alumni are actively encouraging black and Latino students who are accepted to enroll.

Among the blacks and Latinos rejected by the top campuses are students who have achieved well beyond the minimum UC requirement that they be among the top 12.5% of high school graduates. Many earned perfect 4.0 grade averages and scored above 1,200 on the SAT exam. But because of increasing competition--more applicants this year had a dozen or more advanced placement classes and scored above 1,350 on the SAT--Berkeley and UCLA have become more selective. Without the tool of affirmative action, more of the qualified black and Latino applicants are being rejected.

The numbers are down at the most selective UC campuses--San Diego, Irvine, Davis and Santa Barbara. At the least selective UC campuses, Santa Cruz and Riverside, which admit all who are eligible, the admission numbers are up for Latino students. Only Riverside has increased the number of black students accepted. Admittance there will fulfill the state's promise to accept anyone among the top 12.5% of the state's graduating high school seniors into the UC system. But this campus will not be the only choice or the first choice of many black and Latino students.

UC officials say they are redoubling outreach efforts to prepare more black and Latino high school students to qualify for admission to the most competitive campuses. True, the best remedy lies in the long-term improvement of California's wildly uneven public schools. But the University of California--and the state--will suffer the loss of well-qualified Latino and black students this year and every year until improvement occurs.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

The UC Numbers

The drop from last year in admissions of black and Latino students to selecive UC campuses.

*--*

UC campus Latino Black Berkeley -53% -66% UCLA -33 -43 San Diego -31 -46 Davis -20 -36 Santa Barbara -23 -14 Irvine -9 -19

*--*

(Rounded to whole numbers)

Source: University of California

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