Diversity Issues Archive

When Too Few Minorities are Too Many

May 2, 2013 – Noliwe M. Rooks writes in The Chronicle of Higher Education, about our national debate over race and affirmative action at the college level. To read more Click Here.

Report Finds Increased Enrollment of Out-of-State Students at Public Universities Tied to Generating Revenue

May 1, 2013 – A report in the journal Inside Higher Education found that increased enrollment of out-of-state students at public research universities, often done to generate increased tuition revenue, is detrimental to racial and socioeconomic diversity at the institutions. To read more, Click Here.

Supreme Court Agrees to Review Sixth Circuit Affirmative Action Ruling

March 25, 2013 — The U.S. Supreme Court announced today it will hear a case that is likely to have a bearing on several states, like California, that have ballot initiatives banning the use of affirmative action in state institutions. If the high court upholds a recent Sixth Circuit ruling that found Michigan’s ban on affirmative action unconstitutional, it could also strike down Proposition 209 in California.

Abigail Fisher, Texas, and Affirmative Action

March 20, 2013 — Race didn’t cost Abigail Fisher her spot at the University of Texas.

New York Times Opinion Piece on Affirmative Action

March 19, 2013 — Dan Slater, a lawyer and author of “Love in the Time of Algorithms: What Technology Does to Meeting and Mating,” raises the question, “Does Affirmative Action Do What It Should?” Click Here.

New Analysis Critiques So-called “Mismatch” Hypothesis

March 8, 2013 — A Brookings Institution article reviews recent evidence against the idea that minority students are harmed by attending highly selective institutions. It rebuts claims that Proposition 209’s ban on affirmative action in California worked to increase minority graduation rates by rerouting minority students to campuses for which they were more appropriately matched. To read more, Click here.

Study Predicts Poor Graduation Rates for L.A. Students

February 27, 2013 – An in-depth study of L.A.’s black students projects that, if current trends continue, only 1 in 20 African-American kindergartners will go on to graduate from high school and complete a degree at a four-year California university. To read more, Click here.

Sander Study of UCLA Admissions Challenged

February 25, 2013 — Two independent reviews commissioned by the Bunche Center question the findings of a study critical of UCLA’s holistic review admissions policy. Click HERE for the UCLA Newsroom story. (See October 23, 2012 and October 30, 2012 entries below for background on the controversy.)

Applications from African American Students Seeking Admission to UCLA Increase in 2013

January 23, 2013 — With nearly 100,000 undergraduate applicants seeking admission for fall 2013, UCLA made great strides in attracting applications from traditionally underrepresented students. Applications from African Americans increased by 5.7 percent at the freshman level and 14.3 percent at the transfer level.

“We are both pleased and honored that so many talented students from such diverse backgrounds are considering UCLA among their top college choices,” said UCLA Chancellor Gene Block.” A diverse student body from California and beyond enriches our campus, brings unique perspectives and vibrancy to our classrooms, and makes us a truly global university in a global city.”

Detailed tables with system-wide statistics and data for all nine UC undergraduate campuses are posted here. To read the full story by Ricardo Vazquez, visit the UCLA Newsroom by Clicking Here.

UCLA participates in UC system-wide Campus Climate Study

January 7, 2013 — Starting January 8, 2013, UCLA will participate in the University of California’s study on “Campus Climate.” The study will gather a wide variety of data about campus diversity and inclusion and is broken divided into two major phases: The first will involve data gathering from a population survey that will seek input from the entire UC community; based on study findings, phase two will include development of strategic initiatives and action plans. The goal of the study is to build on institutional successes, address institutional climate challenges and promote institutional change. The largest project of its kind in the nation, the study will survey more than 430,000 students, faculty and staff at the 10 UC campuses as well as the Office of the President, five medical centers, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources. For more information about the study, click HERE.

The Bunche Center has been at the forefront of the issue of diversity and equal access in campus addmissions and climate. To learn more about the Bunche Center’s diversity initiatives, click HERE


Lead Attorneys in 6th Circuit Case Respond to Editorials Critical of the Decision

November 30, 2012

The following op-ed piece was submitted to the LA Times yesterday for publication, “FACING THE TRUTH ABOUT THE BANS ON AFFIRMATIVE ACTION.”

By George B. Washington and Shanta Driver, Attorneys in the Sixth Circuit and the Supreme Court for the Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration, and Immigrant Rights and to Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary (BAMN)

The Sixth Circuit’s decision striking down Michigan’s ban on the consideration of affirmative action in college admissions is of profound importance to Michigan, to California, and to the nation.

But in their rush to oppose that decision, the conservatives and most of the media have ignored the real logic of that decision.

The Sixth Circuit’s decision rests firmly on the limits on majority rule that the Fourteenth Amendment imposes. That Amendment, forged in the heat of Reconstruction, specifically aimed at preventing a white electoral or political majority from depriving black and, by implication, other minority citizens of equal political rights to fight for changes in the racial status quo. No vote by the electorate—and in particular no vote by a white majority electorate—may deprive racial minorities of that fundamental right.

Those who oppose the Sixth Circuit decision claim that they, too, are for equal political rights—except they say when minorities seek “preferences.”

But what do they mean by “preferences?” As Ward Connerly and every other opponent of affirmative action have long said, “preferences” means admitting minority students who on average have lower grades and test scores than rejected white applicants—no matter how good the minority students’ scores are or how biased the tests and the other criteria may be.

Even a moment’s reflection shows how absurd the position of the critics of the Sixth Circuit decision actually is. Minorities have equal rights—except when they dare to ask for a departure from the apparently sacrosanct criteria of grades and test scores. Somehow, rights under the Fourteenth Amendment are limited by the results of a test first manufactured over a century later by a company in Princeton, New Jersey.

Indeed, the critics say, it does not matter that the ban on preferences applies only to minority students. Poor students, rural students, veterans and host of other groups have the right to seek departures from the grade-test score criteria which almost everyone agrees are entirely justified and which in fact have long been given. So, too, with no justification, do the children of alumni and the children of the rich or powerful. But racial minorities alone, the critics say, may seek departures from the grade and test score system if and only if the white majority gives its consent by referendum vote.

For those who have any acquaintance with the real history of the fight for racial equality in this country, all this is familiar. President Andrew Johnson opposed the Freedmen’s Act because it was a “preference.”  Southern Senators opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it supposedly contained “preferences.”  And Ward Connerly has opposed the programs that produced a President, an Attorney General, a Secretary of State and an entire generation of distinguished black and Latino/a leaders because the programs supposedly contained “preferences.”

Today, as in our past, the cry of “preferences” is the excuse of choice for those who do not believe in equal rights. Racial minorities have equal rights except for when they seek to upset or depart from an admissions system that discriminates against minority applicants—and that just happens to confer real advantages on white applicants.

The Sixth Circuit rightly rejected this modern version of second-class citizenship. We believe that Justice Kennedy, who rejected a similar argument in his great decision in Romer v. Evans, will do so as well if the Supreme Court decides to review the Sixth Circuit decision on its merits.

In the meantime, we would ask those who say they are for affirmative action—so long as a white majority deigns to afford racial minorities the political right to fight for affirmative action—to consider carefully the company they keep and the arguments they are making.

We ask them to join with us in asserting that the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees equal political rights to racial minorities even if a temporary white majority disagrees with the substance of the minority’s just demands.

LA Times Editorial Questions 6th Circuit Rejection of Affirmative Ban

November 30, 2012 — An LA Times editorial today questioned an appeals court’s recent finding that Michigan Proposal 2, which bans affirmative action in the state, is unconstitutional. Despite claiming to support affirmative action in principle, the editorial argues that the Sixth Circuit’s use of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment was misapplied in the decision and suggests that the U.S. Supreme Court will likely nullify the decision. Click HERE to read the editorial.

Sixth Circuit Finds Michigan Ban on Affirmative Action Unconstitutional

November 15, 2012 — An en banc review in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has found Michigan’s ban on affirmative action to be unconstitutional. Please click HERE to read the full decision. Depending on what happens in the Fisher v Texas case currently being considered by the Supreme Court, this victory could greatly advance efforts to overturn Proposition 209 in California.

Research Rejects “Mismatch” Hypothesis and Supports Value of Affirmative Action

November 8, 2012 — A post to the Supreme Court blog this week shows that the research literature fails to support Professor Richard Sander’s “mismatch” hypothesis, which argues that affirmative action actually hurts minorities by providing them with access to educational institutions for which they are unprepared to compete. In fact, the studies reviewed show quite the opposite, that affirmative action provides underrepresented minorities with opportunities to excel that they would otherwise not have. Click HERE for the review.

UCLA Faculty Support Student Rally Around Admissions Controversy

October 30, 2012 — UCLA students held a walkout and rally yesterday to protest recent editorials in the student newspaper, the Daily Bruin, that question whether underrepresented minority students were admitted to the campus in violation of California’s ban on preferential treatment. Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and alumni showed up in support. Click HERE for the text of the faculty response, which was published in the Daily Bruin today.

New Poll Finds Majority of Americans Prejudiced Against African Americans

October 27, 2012 — Despite all of the talk about a “post-racial” America, new AP poll finds that racial attitudes have not improved since the nation elected its first black president. Click HERE for story.

Daily Bruin Publishes Misleading Editorial About “Holistic” Admissions at UCLA

October 23, 2012 — An editorial published in the Daily Bruin today questions the fairness of UCLA’s admissions process, which considers the academic achievement of applicants within the context of their opportunities and challenges. Known as “holistic review,” this admissions scheme has resulted in a modest increase in the admission of students from certain underrepresented groups, particularly African Americans, since it was adopted for the fall 2007 class. The editorial charges that holistic review, as practiced by UCLA, may violate California Proposition 209 because a disproportionate number of underrepresented minority applicants are referred to “supplemental review” (a follow-up to the basic holistic review process that involves the consideration of additional information about grades, talents, and challenges) and that these students are more likely to be admitted than are other students with similar holistic scores. It dismisses the explanations of admissions officials that supplemental review outcomes are more likely due to the unique challenges faced by these applicants than to their race per se; it brands the process as a “smokescreen” for the use of racial preferences.

UCLA has not used race in its admissions process since 1997. But opponents of affirmative action apparently won’t rest until there is no diversity on campus. (Click here for the amicus brief filed by the University of California in the Fisher v. Texas case to learn more about the issues at stake.) The editorial’s attack on UCLA’s holistic review process is fueled by the research of Richard Sander, a UCLA law professor whose work in recent years has labored to argue that a “mismatch” exists between the skills of underrepresented minority students at elite institutions (like UCLA) and the skills required to excel at these universities. Unfortunately for Professor Sander’s thesis (and there are other problems as well), underrepresented minority students do extremely well at UCLA, graduating at rates exceeding those of underrepresented minorities at other comparable institutions and not considerably lower than those of other UCLA students. And these small differences, the literature suggests, are probably due more to finances than to ability. (Click here for a review of recent literature critical of Sander’s “mismatch” thesis.)

The Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools (CUARS) sets admissions policy at UCLA and approved the move to holistic review in 2007. Below we interview Tyrone Howard, a professor of education and immediate past chair of this faculty committee, for a more balanced consideration of UCLA’s holistic review process.

Ed.  In terms of race, academic outcomes, and access to higher education, UCLA recently released the Mare Report, by UCLA sociologist Robert Mare.  It is an independent review of the implementation of the holistic admissions process. Tell us about the report and what it found.

T.H.  There was a change in the admissions process which occurred after the admission cycle in 2006, when the number of African American students admitted to UCLA dropped below 100. There was an effort to take a different look at how students were admitted. The goal was to find a more comprehensive picture of students’ high school careers. One of the outcomes was a move towards a holistic admissions process. The Mare Report was conducted in response to the change and looked at effects of holistic admission.

Ed.  What was the criticism of it?

T.H.  When we moved towards holistic admissions, critics of the process said it was just an attempt to skirt [Proposition] 209, that there would be key words and other biases used in the holistic review which would help diverse candidates be identified. The Mare Report looked at whether those biases occurred.

Ed.  What were the findings?

T.H.  What was found is that the overwhelming majority of consideration in admission decisions are made based on grades, courses, test scores, and other academic factors. It also looked at nonacademic factors as well, such as extracurricular activities, leadership, being engaged in work outside of the home to support family. But those factors pale compared to academic factors.

There were some slight differences in the supplemental review – when the readers went back and took a second look at applicants whose applications were borderline for whatever reason. The supplemental review gives readers a chance to catch unusual circumstances which may have affected academic performance. It is helpful to recognize that the supplemental review matters. There the report did find that some attention was given more to certain groups and that the number [of diverse candidates] was slightly higher. But the number [of diverse candidates in supplemental review] was only 2.5% of the overall admissions pool.

Ed.  How do you think the opponents of holistic review will respond to that?

T.H.  Opponents will still jump on this, home in on the supplemental review. The supplemental review really gives a closer look at a student’s profile. But the critics will ask “Why are diverse students referred for supplemental review more than non-diverse students?” They’ll claim that is how 209 is being skirted without considering the fact that only a small fraction, only 2.5%, come through the supplemental review.

Ed.  How do you think the report will impact admissions at UCLA and elsewhere?

T.H.  UCLA still turns down a large number of highly qualified students, which is unfortunate. And we still have disappointing numbers with certain student groups. We have to continue to work hard towards addressing those numbers, but at least the holistic review puts us on the pathway.

The Mare Report is good. It is a complex report which used valid methods, and employed different variables. Ultimately, I think it raises more questions. The report covered admits in 2007 and 2008.  We need to look at additional years of data. We also want other UCs to look at their data as well. But at least the report will engage us in how to create a more complete and comprehensive way of admitting to UCLA, and what was found is that it is still a very competitive process for all students.

Read the Fisher v. Texas Oral Arguments Before the Supreme Court

October 16, 2012 — Read the transcript from the oral arguments before the Supreme Court in the Fisher v. Texas case that may decide the future of affirmative action HERE.

Questioning in Fisher v. Texas Case Underscores Supreme Court Divide on Affirmative Action

October 10, 2012 — Arguments in the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case produced pointed exchanges today between attorneys arguing both sides and the eight justices hearing the case. At stake may be the future of affirmative action. Read the Washington Post article HERE.

Experts Make Case for Affirmative Action

October 9, 2012 — On the eve of arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court in the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case, Columbia University president Lee Bollinger and Stanford University education dean Claude Steele explain why affirmative action is needed in higher education. Click HERE for their Los Angeles Times editorial.

Pro-Affirmative Action Rally Planned for U.S. Supreme Court

October 5, 2012 — Dozens of groups plan a massive October 10 rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, which will begin hearing arguments in the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case. Click HERE for the story.

Background on Fisher v. Texas

September 28, 2012 — The Los Angeles Times explores issues in the Fisher v. Texas affirmative action case and considers the situation faced by the University of California. Click HERE for the story.

White House Supports Affirmative Action

August 14, 2012 — The Obama Administration for the first time urged the Supreme Court yesterday to uphold affirmative action in the pending University of Texas case. Observers believe the Texas case will likely determine the future of affirmative action. Click HERE for the Los Angeles Times editorial (which doesn’t mention the recent 9th Circuit challenge to Proposition 209 and the implications for California).

Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. social scientists filed an amicus brief last week in support of affirmative action. Click HERE for brief. Indeed, the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that the court has been flooded by supportive briefs, including one from University of California President Mark Yudof and the ten system chancellors. Click HERE for the story and HERE for the full brief.

Ninth Circuit Rejects En Banc Review of Challenge to Prop 209

May 12, 2012 — The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a request to reconsider a challenge to California Proposition 209 by the full court of judges. Proposition 209 was passed by California voters in 1996 and bans affirmative action in state institutions. Plaintiffs are expected to appeal the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the meantime, a similar challenge to Michigan Proposal 2 is being considered en banc in the Sixth Circuit, after being upheld by a 3-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit last summer. A victory in the Sixth Circuit may put pressure on the Supreme Court to hear any appeal of the Ninth Circuit decision.

3-Judge Panel of the Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Prop 209

April 2, 2012 —  A 3-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected a challenge to California Proposition 209, arguing HERE that little has changed since it last ruled in favor of Proposition 209. Plaintiffs in the case plan to file a motion for en banc review by the entire court within two weeks.

Affirmative Action in Higher Education

On February 20th, the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Fisher vs. University of Texas, and rule on the constitutionality of affirmative action in higher education.  The decision would determine the future of affirmative action in admissions decisions at our nation’s colleges and universities. The Bunche Center has been at the forefront of the issue of equal access in admissions. In late 2011, the Center drafted an amicus brief which has been used by a larger coalition of educators, activists, and students to file legal cases in the Sixth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals that challenge the bans on affirmative action in Michigan and California.  On March 7th, the entire Six Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati heard oral arguments concerning the ban on race-conscious admission in Michigan to determine if it is illegal and if affirmative action should be restored. A decision is expected in upcoming months. For more on the hearing, click HERE. Arguments were heard on the issue in California in February, with a decision still forthcoming. However, the decision by the Supreme Court to hear the Texas case may impact the outcome of state bans on affirmative action. To learn more, please visit:  http://www.latimes.com/news/nation/nationnow/la-na-nn-supreme-court-affirmative-action-20120221,0,7177633.story

Through its College Access Project for African Americans (CAPAA), the Bunche Center has amassed pivotal data and reports that show the detrimental effects that statewide anti-affirmative action initiatives, such as California’s Proposition 209, have inflicted on African American and Latino populations. As part of a larger coalition of educators, activists, and students who have joined forces, the Bunche Center has taken the lead to file legal cases in the Sixth and Ninth Circuit Courts of Appeals that challenge the bans on affirmative action in Michigan and California.

This work can also be found at the following link: www.facebook.com/DefendingAffirmativeAction.

The following is the brief filed in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals:

Sixth Circuit Amicus Brief–Nov 2011

Sixth Circuit Motion to File Amicus–Nov 2011

The following is the brief filed in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:

Ninth Circuit Amicus Brief CSSRAE 

Ninth Circuit Motion to File Amicus CSSRAE