Page One

UC Regent Connerly calls for review of new admissions policy

By David Scharfenberg
Friday September 20, 2002


University of California Regent Ward Connerly called for an independent review of a racially-sensitive UC admissions policy, only to face strong opposition from Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante, at the Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco Thursday. 

Connerly said the university’s “comprehensive review” policy has opened it to charges of favoritism toward minority applicants. Bustamante, however, said there is no evidence of preferential treatment and that an independent study is unnecessary. 

The policy, fully-implemented for the first time this year, weighs factors like leadership, community service and success in the face of hardship, alongside 10 traditional academic measures like grade point average and SAT scores.  

Prior to this year, UC selected 50 to 75 percent of students based on academic factors alone and used comprehensive review to choose the rest. 

Critics say the new policy is simply a way to get around Proposition 209 – a 1996, voter-approved initiative that banned the consideration of race in admissions. But supporters note that many universities use processes similar to comprehensive review and argue that the policy allows for a fuller view of applicants. 

Connerly, who led the fight for Proposition 209, voted for full implementation of comprehensive review in November 2001. He said Thursday that he still supports the policy. 

But the well-known conservative said there is a public perception that comprehensive review is unfair. 

“Does this provide the opportunity to manufacture and embellish life’s experiences and obstacles?” he asked, describing one concern. “Is this, in some way, a circumvention of the California constitution and the reinsertion of race into the equation?” 

Connerly said only an independent “comprehensive review of comprehensive review” would put public fears to rest. 

Bustamante, who serves on the Board of Regents, said there is no evidence that the university used comprehensive review improperly. 

“I’m not quite sure I understand the reason for the issue being brought up,” said Bustamante. “When you raise the issue and you’re asking for a task force or independent auditors or reviews, it gives the impression that something is wrong.” 

Connerly emphasized that he has “a sincere interest not in burying comprehensive review, but in strengthening it.”  

Connerly received support from John Moores, chairman of the Board of Regents, who said that comprehensive review has been fairly applied, but argued that a need exists for “transparency” to ease public concerns about the procedure. 

But UC President Richard Atkinson took a stand against Connerly. 

“I certainly have seen no evidence to suggest that there is any hint of unfairness,” he said, rejecting the call for an independent audit. 

Connerly did not put forth a resolution calling for an independent audit, but asked his fellow Regents to think about the issue. 

The Academic Senate, which represents the faculty in the nine-campus UC system, is scheduled to present its own analysis of comprehensive review at the next Board of Regents meeting in November. 

This year, for the first time, the university selected all students based on comprehensive review. The percentage of “underrepresented minorities” admitted to the university – blacks, Latinos and Native Americans – rose modestly, up from 17.1 percent last year to 17.5 percent this year. At UC Berkeley, the figure moved from 18.6 percent to 19.1 percent.