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Diversity at the University of California in decline?

Do the UCs need to increase student ethnic diversity?
Do the UCs need to increase student ethnic diversity?

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Enrollments of black and Latino students at the top two University of California campuses – UCLA and Berkeley – have dropped significantly since the passage of Prop 209, which ban the use of race, sex, or ethnicity in state hiring and college admissions decisions, the Los Angeles Times reports. At UCLA, African American freshmen made up 3.6% of the freshmen last fall, versus 7.1% in 1995. Similarly, they made up 3.4% of the freshman class at UC Berkeley last fall, compared with 3.4% in 1995.

In lieu of affirmative action, the Times says, UC schools have tried using other race-neutral alternatives to increase diversity, though without much success. Asian Americans, however, continue to boast a sizable presence: they made up close to one-third of UCLA's freshman class in 2012, and over 40% of UC Berkeley's freshmen.

The constitutionality of using race as a factor in admissions continues to be a hotly-debated issue. Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court essentially decided in a case involving the University of Texas that public schools could only use race to boost diversity only if all other efforts have failed.

What should the University of California do to increase diversity? Should California reconsider the use of affirmative action in college admissions? In the face of deep budget cuts and rising tuition costs, should millions of dollars be spent on increasing diversity?


William Kidder, Assistant Executive Vice Chancellor, UC Riverside

Heather Mac Donald, fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research; she wrote about diversity programs at the UCs  in an article entitled “Multiculti U," which will be published in the forthcoming “The Beholden State: California’s Lost Promise and How to Recapture It” (City Journal, 2013)