Before the U.S. Supreme Court hears another case on college affirmative action, this time centering on the University of Texas at Austin, leaders from the University of California want to make it known that banning race-based admissions has not been good for diversity on UC campuses.
UC President Mark Yudof and the system's 10 chancellors have filed a “friend of the court” brief in support of the Texas school, which uses race as a factor in its admissions decisions. The UC folks urge the Supreme Court to uphold that policy, which is being challenged by a white student who was denied acceptance to the university in 2008.
Yudof said the 1996 passage of Proposition 209, California's affirmative action ban, has had a “dramatic adverse effect” on the university. The brief states that admission and enrollment of underrepresented minority students at a number of UC campuses “still have not regained the levels that prevailed before Proposition 209 was enacted.” For instance, in 1995, African Americans made up 7.3% of the freshmen class at UC Berkeley. Last year, that figure dropped to 3.9%, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Also, in a state where Latinos make up half the K-12 public school population, they make up just 15 percent of the student population at UC Berkeley.
Asian American students, however, have thrived in the post-Prop 209 world. The freshman class admitted to UC Berkeley this fall is 30 percent white and 46 percent Asian, according to newly released data. Asians make up 13.6% percent of California's population.
The brief contends that the race-neutral measures that the UC system has been forced to take has not allowed the university to “assemble a student body that fully reflects the racial and ethnic diversity of the pool of state high school applicants from which those campuses draw.”
But former UC Regent Ward Connerly, who led the campaign for Prop 209, disagrees with Yudof's stance, telling CBS San Francisco, “Walk on any UC campus and you'll see students from all around the globe. And it's just disingenuous to say that UC is not diverse. The fact is they don't think they have enough black students.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the Texas case on Oct. 10.