“We are outraged.”
Those words set the tone for a rousing news conference on the campus at UCLA. The Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education called the institution’s admission policies racist and discriminatory.
“We reject the idea that 90 percent of African-American students who applied to UCLA (for fall 2006) were deemed unacceptable,” said Mandla Kayise, president of the UCLA Black Alumni Association.”
The alliance, consisting of African-American religious leaders, alumni, civic and student leaders demanded reform of UCLA’s undergraduate admissions policies charging that they overemphasize academic performance and overlook the significant challenges that adversely affect many students of color.
The activists demanded a complete overhaul of admissions procedures to bring about “immediate and demonstrative actions to increase African-American admissions and enrollment. We are calling on UCLA to adopt a more holistic approach that would put applicant’s achievements and performance in a fair context,” said Kayise.
The group cited a new report released by the UCLA Ralph J. Bunche Center for African-American Studies as evidence of the institution’s flawed admissions policies.
The demand for reform comes after disclosure two weeks ago that Blacks account for only 2% of the more than 4,850 students expected to enroll at UCLA next fall. 96 are Black, and 20 of those are recruited athletes. That is less than half the number—211—of Black students enrolled in the fall of 1997 a year after the voter approved Proposition 209 outlawed use of race in admissions.
UCLA officials blame the declining number of freshmen admits on Proposition 209. “Before the ban was imposed on affirmative action we consistently led the UC system in both the number of admits and the proportion of our freshman classes that were underrepresented minorities,” countered Tom Lifka, a UCLA assistant chancellor.
Hunt said the findings reject assertions that the sharp decline is due to Prop 209 ban on affirmative action. He added that the number of Black’s at UCLA have fallen to such low levels that even when Black prospective students visit the campus, “It becomes a tough sell when they don’t see any other people like themselves.”
Hunt cited an earlier report entitled “Separate But Certain Not Equal” which suggests that the UC system is moving toward a model that looks like institutional segregation.
The alliance would not rule out a fall boycott or legal recourse, saying the group has called for immediate dialogue with acting chancellor Norman Abrams and UC president Robert C. Dynes. “Crisis situations demand immediate attention—This is a crisis,” said Taylor.