Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

UC Regents' Many Faces

July 19, 1998

Oh, those University of California regents. They collectively exhibit the public image of steadfast vigilance in the name of academic merit-only admissions. No exceptions whatsoever for minorities and women. You'll always find Regent Wardell Connerly and others at the ramparts at the least hint of an academic security breach. Their shield: their decision in 1995 to ban racial, ethnic and gender preferences and the subsequent passage of Proposition 209 to end affirmative action in California's public institutions. That was the end of "preferences," at least for those groups.

There was Connerly in June, for example, summoning the Boalt Hall Law School dean before the regents for more than an hour of grilling. Just how had the superb legal training ground managed to increase admissions of blacks and Latinos? Something fishy there!

In May, the regents unleashed a torrent of criticism against a proposal to accept the top 4% of students from high schools. Wouldn't the top 4% at poor schools displace more qualified students from better schools and thus lower UC system standards? "As regents and protectors of the university," said Regent Sue Johnson, "we're concerned about the quality of our students." And Connerly: "We are willing to stand in any gate to make sure that quality doesn't suffer." Way to go, Ward!

In fact, Connerly isn't satisfied with admissions guard duty. His other targets include ethnic studies programs and separate graduation ceremonies for black and Latino students. We're sure he's just neglected to mention that he's equally nonplused about all the other separate ceremonies based on academic majors and nations of origin.

You can stand on any side of this issue. That's not the point here. It's about the fact that this is all sound bites and raw hypocrisy. It's part of the politicization of higher education in California that begins in the governor's office and lowers itself from there. The drawbridge cannot reach women and minorities, but the rich and powerful (not to mention any athlete who could dunk on Shaquille O'Neal), well now, that's different.

It's with the latter that Connerly and his colleagues, the supposed defenders of quality and equality, shift to shrugs and dulcet tones. Suffice it to say that the regents will allow university chancellors the right to intervene on a student's behalf, as long as they consult with academic senates. Translation, if Mom and Dad are highly placed, or willing to make a generous . . . er . . . gracious donation, the University of California will see what it can do.

What happened to Connerly's old words about "fat cats or friends in high places"? Guess he can't use that line anymore, not as the head of state GOP fund-raising this year. Ah, politics.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|