Rebecca Trounson, Los Angeles Times, June 4, 2006
LOS ANGELES—This fall, 4,852 freshmen are expected to enroll at the University of California, Los Angeles, but only 96, or about 2 percent, are black, the lowest figure in decades and a growing concern at the campus.
For several years, UCLA students, professors and administrators have watched as the numbers of black students declined. But the new figures have shocked many on campus and prompted school leaders to declare the situation a crisis.
Overall, across the nine undergraduate UC campuses, the new class of a record 37,000 freshmen shows a continued trend of slight increases in black, Latino and Native American students. These groups, still considered underrepresented at UC, will make up slightly less than 20 percent of the 2006 freshman class, compared with slightly less than 19 percent for the current class.
But UCLA—which boasts such storied black alumni as baseball legend Jackie Robinson, Nobel laureate Ralph Bunche and former Los Angeles Mayor Tom Bradley, and is in a county that is 9.8 percent black—now has a lower percentage of black freshmen than either its crosstown rival, the University of Southern California, or UC Berkeley, the school often considered its top competitor within the UC system.
The 96 figure—down by 20 from last year—is the lowest for incoming black freshmen since at least 1973. And of the black freshmen who have indicated they will enroll in the fall, 20 are recruited athletes, admissions officials said.
“Clearly, we’re going to have to meet this crisis by redoubling our efforts,” said Chancellor Albert Carnesale, who met Friday with a delegation of undergraduates upset about the situation.
In California, the problem is rooted partly in the restrictions placed on the state’s public colleges and institutions by Proposition 209, the 1996 voter initiative that banned consideration of race and gender in admissions and hiring.