Stuart Silverstein, Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2006
Leaders in Los Angeles’ African American community called Thursday for the overhaul of UCLA’s undergraduate admissions practices, charging that many black applicants were unfairly rejected by the university.
The demand for reforms follows the disclosure two weeks ago that blacks account for only 96, or 2%, of the more than 4,700 freshmen expected to enroll at UCLA this fall. That is the lowest level in more than three decades, and gives UCLA a lower percentage of African American freshmen than USC or UC Berkeley.
The call for changes was also propelled by this week’s release of a report by researchers at UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies that was sharply critical of the university’s freshmen admissions procedures.
In a news conference on campus, a newly formed group consisting of African American religious, civic, alumni and student leaders said UCLA’s admissions practices discriminate against blacks.
The Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education rejected university administrators’ frequent assertion that California’s ban on affirmative action in public employment, contracting and education — mandated by the passage of Proposition 209 in 1996 — was a major impediment to bringing in more black students.
The activists called for a complete overhaul of admissions practices to bring about “immediate and demonstrative actions to increase African American admissions and enrollment.” They did not offer specifics other than urging a more holistic approach that would put applicants’ achievements and performance in a fairer context.
Ward Connerly, a former UC regent and leading opponent of affirmative action, took issue with the Bunche report, saying that the main problem is a small pool of high-performing black high school students.