The university found a way around a state anti-affirmative action law
UCLA seems to have found away around a voter initiative that made it illegal to consider race and gender when deciding college admissions – but some believe the university’s policies are being manipulated in a way that cheats the voters of California . Twelve years ago, voters passed Proposition 209, which bars the state’s public universities from using race as a criterion in admissions. In the decade following the passage of the anti-affirmative action initiative, Black enrollment in the University of California system plummeted, and by 2006, only 103 of UCLA’s entering freshmen and 108 of its transfer students were African American – the shallowest level in 30 years. So UCLA got creative, adopting a “holistic” approach to admissions it says is much fairer. Under this plan, university officials began evaluating academic achievement, extracurricular activities and other criteria in context with applicants’ personal experiences. UCLA says it has struck pay dirt, as Black enrollment has crawled upward. For this school year, 230 of the 4,889 freshmen are African American – plus 100 transfer students. But critics, including political science Professor Tim Groseclose, say that UCLA isn’t as slick as it thinks. Last week, Groseclose quit the university’s Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations after accusing the campus’ top brass and his colleagues on the committee of a coverup. He had been denied the opportunity to officially study the rise in Black enrollment. “A growing body of evidence strongly suggests that UCLA is cheating on admissions,” he wrote in an 89-page report posted on a UCLA Web site. The university calls his claims bogus, saying he is drawing a false conclusion based on the increased diversity. What he fails to notice, officials say, is the university’s aggressive outreach, which was employed to counter an anti-minority law. “He’s taking an outcome and from that deducing a cause,” said Tom Lifka, associate vice chancellor for student academic services.