Re "Affirmative action — not required," Opinion, Aug. 26
The University of California's amicus brief in the Texas affirmative action case pending before the Supreme Court is a pointed example of the need for affirmative action. As Peter Schrag notes, the UC system adopted policies that eliminated affirmative action tools in 1995, before Proposition 209 passed. But the Board of Regents rescinded those policies in 2001. Thus, absent Proposition 209, UC could (and in all likelihood would) consider race as a factor in student admission.
As the brief states, UC has explored a number of race-neutral strategies to supplement its outreach to attract applications from individuals with diverse backgrounds. However, UC notes that these efforts have not boosted underrepresented minority enrollment.
FOR THE RECORD:
Campus: The caption with Saturday's photo of UC Berkeley's Sather Gate misidentified the landmark as Slather Gate. —
Diversity and academic elitism are not mutually exclusive. As the first person in my family to graduate from high school, graduate from college (UCLA) and attend a professional school (UC Irvine School of Law), I respectfully disagree with Schrag's presumption that community colleges are charged with educating first-generation students. In fact, first-generation students make up about 40% of UC's student body.
Although some may view UC's efforts to have its enrollment reflect the state's population as unattainable (or undesirable), diversity was identified in the Supreme Court's decision in the 2003 affirmative action case Grutter vs. Bollinger as "a compelling state interest that can justify the use of race in university admission."
The writer is the UC system's student regent-designate.
Our top research universities are confused by the notion of more than one human race. We race waving the banner of affirmative action down the road to the nowhere of mediocrity, a road paved with good intentions.
In any of my classes of freshman at UCLA, no more than two or three students out of any 20 can write a simple one-page paper worth more than a C-, so far as plain English sentences are concerned. I give Cs for intelligence — of which there is plenty — to balance D-quality writing that shows only misunderstanding of whatever they try put in words.
Engineering and science kids can get along with symbols and formulas; but Western civilization needs language literates too.
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