UCLA board called into question

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September 9, 2008

4:18 PM

University of California-Los Angeles professor Tim Groseclose claims the school’s says board has been taking applicants’ racial backgrounds into account when making admissions decisions. Since affirmative action was banned in the state in 1996, this is illegal in the state of California, and the university denies his claim.

According to The Daily Bruin, UCLA’s student newspaper, Groseclose — a professor of political science — resigned his position on UCLA’s Committee on Undergraduate Admissions and Relations with Schools, the organization that oversees the university’s admission committee. Groseclose also wrote a nearly 100-page report of his observations of the board, which cannot lawfully consider an applicant’s race in the admissions process.

In 1996, California passed Proposition 209, which banned public institutions from practicing affirmative action. Section A of the amendment to the state constitution reads:

“The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.”

Though applicants can leave the race section on a college application blank, some do not, and Groseclose said a student’s race and experiences can usually be deduced from admissions essays.

Last year, The Daily Bruin received university admissions data that showed that admitted black and Latino students had “significantly” lower test scores and GPAs. The newspaper suggested that the admissions process for minority students may be different than that for other applicants.

According to the New York Times, Groseclose believed that the board felt pressured by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

“It is obvious that the admissions staff was under intense pressure to admit more African Americans,” Groseclose wrote in his report.

UCLA officials are speaking out against the allegations and the school issued a statement defending the board in late August. Tom Lifka, UCLA’s associate vice chancellor for student academic services, says these statistics are not the result of a skewed admissions process and fervently denies any sort of racial favoring on part of the board.

“He’s taking an outcome and from that deducing a cause,” Tom Lifkta said.

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