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UC urged to dump admissions policy

The Associated Press
Wednesday March 07, 2001

The Associated Press 


SACRAMENTO — The University of California should rescind a policy that forbids admissions officers from considering factors like race and gender, state officials and students said Tuesday at a Capitol rally. 

The policy change would be largely symbolic since race-based policies are illegal under Proposition 209, a 1996 voter-approved initiative 

“But things start with symbolism,” said Assemblyman Herb Wesson, D-Culver City. 

Explicitly stating the universities would only accept most students if they have good grades and test scores sends the wrong message to minority groups, several state officials said. 

“This is not about Proposition 209. That is law. This is about taking away the unwelcome mat from the door of perhaps the most prestigious university  

system in the world,” said  

Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, an ex-officio regent. 

Bustamante is a supporter of a resolution under consideration in the Legislature asking UC regents to overturn the policy. The resolution is authored by Assemblyman Marco Firebaugh, D-Los Angeles. 

Under current UC policy, 50 to 75 percent of applicants must be judged on academic criteria, but that doesn’t mean UC’s 10 undergraduate campuses can only consider test scores and grades, said university spokesman Brad Hayward. 

“It can also include what college prep courses were taken beyond minimum eligibility requirements, the quality of academic performance relative to the educational opportunities and it can include outstanding work in a certain area,” he said. 

The other 50 to 25 percent of applicants can be accepted if they show outstanding extracurricular accomplishments, talents or leadership, Hayward said. 

The protest comes weeks after UC President Richard Atkinson said he wanted to dump the SAT I as an application tool. The standardized test is required at most universities, but Atkinson said it does not accurately reflect a student’s likelihood of succeeding in college. 

More than 35 UC students attended the protest in shirts reading “Admission: Denied” and carrying signs that said “Equal Education, Not Segregation.” 

The students said racial tensions at UC campuses were increasing because the schools do not accurately reflect California’s population. 

“It says UC doesn’t care about diversity, doesn’t care about anything but numbers,” said Alma Hernandez, 21. 

Hernandez, a political science and rhetoric major at UC Berkeley, said students at her school have threatened to stop minority recruitment efforts later this month if UC regents do not overturn the policy. 

Regent Ward Connerly, who campaigned for Proposition 209, said the arguments against the UC policy are disingenuous at best. 

“If you listen carefully what they are doing is to try to suggest that California is restoring affirmative action, more properly known as preferences. It has nothing to do with welcoming students,” he said. 

Rescinding the emphasis on academics in admissions would not admit any more minority students to the schools because of Proposition 209, he said. 

Regent Odessa Johnson called the policy “hideous” and said it gave accepted minority students the “perceived notion that the UC climate is hostile to underrepresented students.” 

The regents’ March agenda is already set, so the earliest any decision could be made is May, said Johnson, who did not know if there are enough votes to overturn the policy. 

On the Net: 

Read Firebaugh’s ACR21: 

Regents’ Web page: