Minorities can’t compete without set-asides?

Jul 1, 2013 by

UC has struggled to enroll more blacks and Latinos since a state ban on race-based admissions, an issue central to a recent Supreme Court case.

In the nearly two decades since California voters banned the use of affirmative action in college admissions, the two most competitive University of California schools — UCLA and Berkeley — saw enrollments of black and Latino students plunge and have struggled to recover.

The UC system has adopted a number of recruiting and admissions measures to legally work around the 1996 ban, Proposition 209. But the enrollment of these two groups has not completely rebounded. At UCLA, for example, African American freshmen dropped from 7.1% of the class in 1995 to 3.6% last fall. At UC Berkeley, African Americans made up 6.3% of freshmen in 1995 and 3.4% last fall.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday signaled that it was not ready to forbid affirmative action in a case involving the University of Texas. The high court, in returning the case to a lower court, said colleges must first try other ways to diversify campuses before turning to racial preferences.

California public universities have tried new efforts to boost ethnic diversity without using affirmative action, providing a possible example for other states to follow. But those efforts have had only limited success, according to top UC officials, who filed a brief with the Supreme Court supporting Texas’ use of racial preferences.

Among the approaches UC officials have attempted: Undergraduate applications are no longer reviewed based solely on high school grades and standardized test scores; those still are the most important factors, but they are placed in the context of students’ talents, life challenges, language barriers and family income.

A student is now guaranteed a spot in the UC system, although not necessarily at UCLA or Berkeley, by being in the top 9% of his or her high school class, not just in the top tier of students statewide. UC also dropped the requirement for two SAT subject tests, something low-income and minority students were more likely to skip or neglect. Financial aid was expanded.

via UC programs in lieu of affirmative action show limited success – latimes.com.

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