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UC files court brief supporting race-based admissions policy

August 13, 2012 |  4:06 pm

UC files court brief supporting race-based admissions policy.

The University of California on Monday submitted a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court supporting the use of race as a factor in college admissions.

UC President Mark G. Yudof and the system’s 10 chancellors filed the “friend of the court” brief in support of the University of Texas at Austin, which admits applicants who rank in the top 10% of their high school class and uses race and other criteria for admissions decisions.

A white applicant who was rejected under the policy sued.

In their brief, UC leaders argued that race-conscious admissions are necessary to ensure a diverse student body. They cited the university system’s own less-than-successful attempts to reflect California’s multiethnic population since passage in 1996 of Proposition 209, which banned race as a consideration in hiring, contracting and university admissions.

Since then, “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,” the brief stated.

"The race-neutral measures UC has implemented in an effort to increase diversity have not enabled it to achieve a 'critical mass' of certain minority students, particularly African-American students, at its most selective campuses. Nor have they enabled it 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.”

For example, in 1995, African Americans represented 7.3% of freshmen at UC Berkeley, a figure that dropped to 3.9% in 2011. Preliminary data for fall 2012 place the figure at 3.5%. Latino students represented 18.5% of the admitted pool in 1995, 17.2% in 2011 and a projected 17.8% in 2012. But from 1995 to 2009, Latino students went from making up 30% to 41% of California’s high school graduates, according to the brief.

“Ours is a unique story that shines a light on the obstacles we face as we seek to enrich the UC educational experience through diversity,” Yudof said in a statement. “The facts tell us the educational and societal benefits from a diverse student body cannot be realized fully at the nation’s largest, highly selective university system without the judicious use of tools that take race into account during undergraduate admissions decisions.” 


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Photo: University of California President Mark Yudof. Credit: Paul Sakuma / Associated Press