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Davis, California

Saturday, February 24, 2024

UC tries to increase diversity post-Proposition 209

Since the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996, California public institutions are prohibited from observing affirmative action. In eradicating race-conscious policies, the University of California (UC) system saw a decrease in the percentage of underrepresented minority students admitted to UCs.

Recently, diversity has increased through programs targeted at assisting underrepresented minorities consisting of African American, American Indian and Latino students.

Some programs include the Eligibility in the Local Context (ELC) program and a Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders.

The ELC program takes the top 9 percent of qualified seniors in participating high schools. The UC said the program allows for UC admissions to recognize and reward the academic accomplishment of students.

On Jan. 24, the unveiling of the Summer Institute for Emerging Managers and Leaders was announced as a partnership between the UC and historically black colleges and universities. Twenty-five first-year students will participate by rotating annually among the UC’s six businesses schools.

According to the press release, of UC’s 18,000 graduate and professional school students, 12 percent are underrepresented minorities, with African Americans making up less than 4 percent. The summer institute is a means to increase diversity under Prop. 209.

A UC fact sheet depicting the university-wide application, admissions and enrollment of California resident first-year students from Fall 1989 to Fall 2010 shows 1,683 African American students were admitted in 1995. The year Prop. 209 was enacted, the number dropped to 1,628 and then to 1,556 the following year. From there, it was a downward trend until it began picking up again in 2001.

American Indian and Latino students experienced the same trend, with 392 American Indian students admitted in 1995, dropping to 360 in 1996 and 309 in 1997. For Latino students, 1,623 were admitted in 1995; 1,550 in 1996 and 1,499 in 1997. Similarly, the admittance numbers decreased substantially until 2001.

Enrollment numbers for African American, American Indian and Latino students experienced the same gradual decline post-Prop. 209 until it began to pick up in 2006.

“Since the implementation of race neutral admissions, the university has worked very hard within the parameters of the law to increase diversity in the ways we can,” said UC Media specialist Shelly Meron. “That includes academic preparation programs that are helping underrepresented minority students fulfill our admission requirements and compete for admissions.”

However, the number of underrepresented minority students in the UC system is still a smaller proportion of those admitted and enrolled in the UC system than it was before Prop. 209.

UC Davis engages in a plan called the Vision of Excellence. Senior public information representative Julia Ann Easley said in an e-mail that the diversification of the student body is a theme that runs throughout the goals and implementation plan of the Vision of Excellence.

“Our offices for Undergraduate Admissions, Graduate Studies and the professional schools are cognizant of this as they reach out to students,” Easley said in the e-mail.

In addition, UC Davis has a Student Recruitment and Retention Center (SRRC) in which peer mentoring, tutoring, real life planning and other services are available. Easley said SRRC also participates in the effort to retain diversity.

“We’ve made some progress in enrolling higher proportions of underrepresented students, in particular, Latino students,” Meron said. “Many UC leaders, including President Mark Yudof, have expressed their support in the past for affirmative action.”

To increase diversity enrollment, the UC system targets students from low-income families, students from families with little experience with higher education and students who attend schools that don’t traditionally send a large number of students to four-year institutions.

“The university reviews applications in light of 14 different factors, including academic records and a student’s ability to contribute to intellectual life at UC,” Meron said.

Meron said this doesn’t give any preferential treatment based on racial or ethnic background. She said this is done because they value a student body reflecting the state as a whole.

“We are limited in what we can do because of Proposition 209,” Meron said. “We don’t want to think of it as a disadvantage; we’re certainly not where we’d like to be because we’re constricted in that way, but we do feel we’re making some progress.”

CLAIRE TAN can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

Editor’s Note: In this article, UC Media specialist Shelly Meron was quoted saying “Since the implementation of race neutral admissions, the university has worked very hard within the primaries of the law…” It should have say “Since the implementation of race neutral admissions, the university has worked very hard within the parameters of the law…” The Aggie regrets this error.


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