UC Needs More Diverse Student Body, Report Says
September 20, 2007
Bill Lindelof, The Sacramento Bee
The University of California needs to work harder to attract more minority students and faculty members, according to a report presented to UC regents Wednesday.
Even though Latino, African American and American Indian students account for a growing portion of California’s high school graduates, they remain a small percentage of the UC system’s freshman class.
A committee of UC regents unanimously endorsed the report Wednesday during the first day of their meeting on the UC Davis campus. About 50 students protested outside, saying the report was too general and vague.
“I endorse this report in its entirety,” said Regent Eddie Island, echoing the comments of many of his fellow board members.
The report, which was prepared by a study group on university diversity, says the University of California should work harder to increase transfer admissions of underrepresented students — African American, Latino and American Indian — and that the current method of determining freshman admission should be analyzed.
The report also called for yearly reports to the regents by the president of the university system on the status of diversity.
UC President Robert Dynes said more specifics on what can be done to create a more diverse student body are contained in four committee reports to come in the next several weeks.
“Each of them will have very explicit recommendations on what has to be done next, and we will have to do it,” said Dynes.
In addition to a diverse student body, Dynes also said it is important to have diverse faculty.
“We have to have faculty that looks like the students that are going to want to come to the University of California,” he said.
Provost and Executive Vice President Rory Hume said that work must be done to better prepare students for the rigor of university work before they apply to college.
Regents heard from students during the meeting and in protest on the steps of the Mondavi Center where a rally was organized by the University of California Student Association.
UC Santa Barbara student Justin Reyes, who drove to Davis to protest, said during an interview that he was dissatisfied with the report.
“The report is just common sense,” he said. “These are things we have been saying for so long. I don’t feel that the regents should just say there is a crisis and leave it at that.”
Reyes said that he would like to see less emphasis placed on SAT scores in determining who gets into UC.
“In an ideal world, I would like to see them eliminated, but I realize that would require a lot of restructuring of the education system,” he said.
He said entrance exams are not a good barometer of how well a student will do in the UC system because admissions tests are biased and racist.
He also feels that some students lack enough access to A-G curriculum, the four-year sequence of high school courses that prepare students for college. The core classes include English, math, history science and foreign languages.
In July 2006, the university system decided to find out how the system was serving an increasingly diverse state.
The report was prepared to study the long-term impact of Proposition 209, a 1996 initiative banning preferences in state hiring, contracting and education.
The report found that although there are pockets of success, UC has not kept pace with a changing state. At the undergraduate level, advances in the 1980s and early 1990s have reversed direction.
The numbers of underrepresented faculty members on each campus are low, the report said. Women were also not represented in sufficient numbers in some cases.
In an interview outside the meeting, Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez, a Los Angeles Democrat who also serves as an ex-officio regent, pointed to outreach actions taken by Charles B. Reed, chancellor of the California State University, as a good way to increase student diversity.
He said Reed visits churches and is “proactive at high schools and junior high schools to spread the word to students in the inner cities that they need to reach the goal of attending the university.”
He also said private universities are making inroads in the African American and Latino communities to recruit promising students.