The new UC eligibility requirements have sparked an uproar with some Asian American community leaders, who say the change will cause a decline in the university’s Asian American population.
Chinese for Affirmative Action is among several national advocacy organizations that have expressed concern over the eligibility changes. The organization has suggested that the new eligibility requirements could cause “unintentional whitening” of UC.
“There’s almost a swapping out of Asian students for white students. Let’s not rush this thing,” said Vincent Pan, executive director of Chinese for Affirmative Action, in a press release.
“The concern is that this policy change hasn’t been well studied and hasn’t determined how it will affect the diversity of the student body at UC,” said Susan Hseih, spokesperson for Chinese for Affirmative Action.
Beginning with the fall class of 2012, students will no longer have to take the SAT Subject Tests, also known as SAT II, in order to have their application considered by UC.
The new admissions policy could change the demographics of admitted UC students.
According to a California Postsecondary Education Commission study that examined 2007 applicants, the new requirements would have hypothetically caused a 4 to 7 percent decline in the proportion of admitted Asian American students in 2007-2008. African American students would have seen at most a 1 percent increase, Latinos a 3 percent increase, and white students as much as a 10 percent increase.
The admitted fall 2007 class was 36 percent Asian American, 34 percent white, 19 percent Chicano/Latino, 4 percent African American, 1 percent Native American and 6 percent other or unknown.
The eligibility change was also at the forefront of the agenda of the Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education conference in San Francisco on Mar. 31.
California State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is among a group of lawmakers who have criticized UC for not soliciting public input before implementing the change. He held a hearing on the senate select committee on Asian American Pacific Islander affairs last week to gather information from UC.
“The concern is that this will negatively impact Asian Pacific Islander applicants and [Lee] wants to make sure that that doesn’t happen,” said Adam Keigwin, Lee’s chief of staff, who added that a 7 percent decline in admitted Asian American students would be “detrimental.“
UC President Mark Yudof, responding to Yee’s concerns, wrote a letter stating that the intent of the admissions change was to increase opportunity by “opening the door for consideration for admission to a larger group of students” and to increase fairness by “eliminating unnecessary barriers.“
Yudof also noted that under the new change, Asian Americans are still projected to qualify for admissions at rates “substantially higher” than other racial groups. According to the 2007 CPEC study, 20.9 percent of Asian American students would have been guaranteed admission under the new policy, as compared to 12.2 percent for whites and between 6 and 7 percent for Latinos and African Americans.
“We hope and expect that [Asian Pacific Islander] students will continue to achieve at very high levels, to apply to UC at very high rates, and to be very successful in the comprehensive review process at each of our campuses,” wrote Yudof.
D’Artaganan Scorza, the UC Student Regent, said the admissions policy change has been widely misunderstood. Its aim is to broaden the eligibility criteria to include economically underprivileged students, who have equal potential and for whom the SAT II tests are a burden, he said.
According to the 2007 CPEC study, the percentage of admitted students from schools with low Academic Performance Index scores would have increased by 4 to 7 percent.
Furthermore, with the implementation of a writing sample on the SAT Reasoning Test in 2005, the SAT II tests are no longer necessary, said Scorza.
Scorza also said the term Asian American encompasses a wide variety of ethnicities, such as Filipinos and Hmong, who are underrepresented at UC.
“Underrepresented groups will benefit because of this policy,” Scorza said. “We need to get away from the homogeneity of terms. What’s fair is fair for all.“
Keigwin said Yee’s office has yet to see any data to support that claim.
Yee will keep a close eye on the effect of the new admissions policy, Keigwin said. Now, UC must adequately communicate the changes, he said.
“Outreach needs to be done to all communities, so students can adjust to the change in the policy,” Keigwin said. “At the end of the day, what everyone hopes for is an equal and fair shot at admission, regardless of their racial background.“
PATRICK McCARTNEY can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.