Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: UCLA `Greater' Because of Affirmative Action

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

THE LAST WORD: UCLA `Greater' Because of Affirmative Action

Article excerpt

THE LAST WORD: UCLA `Greater' Because of Affirmative Action.

In the past year, no issue has so touched the University of California as affirmative action and the controversy it has generated.

I have seen the affirmative action initiatives undertaken at UCLA in the past 20 years succeed in yielding the most diverse population of any research university in the United States. Simultaneously, UCLA has developed into one of our nation's finest institutions of higher learning. This was no coincidence: Diversity and educational excellence go hand in hand.

But affirmative action has come under fire nationwide. In California, the Board of Regents, which governs the nine universities in the University of California system, voted last year to halt the consideration of race, gender and ethnicity in admissions and hiring decisions. This vote was regrettable and could undermine important gains.

UCLA could not have achieved its current level of diversity without affirmative action. We were an excellent university 25 years ago. We are a much greater university today -- in large measure because we are so diverse. In 1980, our entering freshman class was two-thirds Caucasian; today, more than two-thirds are ethnic minorities: 39 percent Asian American, 24 percent Latino and 8 percent African American. The percentage of Latino students now in the freshman class is a record number for UCLA.

The notion that affirmative action benefits only those individuals whom it reaches out to is mistaken, in my view.

It is not something we do for them; it's something we do for ourselves.

What Now?

As we look to the future, we must ask ourselves how we can maintain diversity at UCLA without the benefit of affirmative action. We know it will be a great challenge.

At least 80 percent of UCLA's 25,500 undergraduate applicants last fall met the eligibility standards to attend. When choosing a freshman class from so many qualified applicants, our practice in recent years has been to admit about 60 percent on academic criteria alone -- grades, test scores and the quality of courses a student has taken. But we've learned that these measures don't tell the whole story of a student's potential. So we admit the remainder of the class -- who still meet our eligibility requirements -- on academic and supplemental material combined. These criteria include California residence, ethnic identity, physical and learning disabilities, educational disadvantage, family income, whether a student comes from a two-parent or single-parent family, is first-generation college bound or has special talents and experiences. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.