Re "Fewer Blacks and Latinos Admitted to 3 UC Schools," March 17: As a community college mathematics professor preparing students for university transfer, I have great interest in the UC admissions numbers. However, it seems to me that the reported "sharp declines" in African American and Latino admissions may not be worthy of front-page headlines.
Taking UC Irvine, for example, it is true that the numbers show declines from 1997 to 1998 admissions among African Americans and Latinos of 18.8% and 8.6%, respectively, but the published data also shows an increase of 222% among applicants who "declined to state" their ethnicities. While the numbers from UCI show an actual decline of 662 admissions among all the ethnic categories, there is an increase of 981 among those who declined to state an ethnicity.
Instead of an actual decrease in admissions for various ethnic groups, could it be that many students simply declined to put their ethnicity on their UC applications?
MARY ANNE ANTHONY
Santa Ana College
I don't understand how "UC San Diego determined that most those 'decline-to-state' applicants were white or Asian American." It makes much more sense to me that if an applicant were African American or Latino and knew that such a fact would no longer give added points, he or she would decline to state this fact.
In fact, minority applicants might very well suspect that prejudice and discrimination might work against their being admitted if they stated their ethnicity (that's why affirmative action was started in the first place). Whites and Asian Americans, on the other hand, would probably feel they have nothing to lose by mentioning their ethnicity. So it's possible that the decline in minority admissions is even greater than suspected.
SUSAN K. PERRY
Fifteen years after being accepted to UC Santa Cruz as an affirmative action admit, and on the very day that I received my doctorate diploma from Harvard University in the mail, I sat at home reading the news that, as expected, the number of minorities admitted to the UC system has begun to plummet. Fifteen years after no other educational system would give me a chance, I was both grateful to the UC system and saddened by the latest developments.
I along with many of my friends from East L.A. (all of us the bilingual children of Mexican immigrants) have gone on to become the doctors, lawyers and teachers California needs. To deny this opportunity to this and future generations of students is criminal.
Assistant Professor of History