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Think. Discuss. Act. Affirmative Action

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Review: UC’s Fall Class

Gorov, L. (1999, April 1). UC’s Fall Class is White, Asian. The Boston Globe. p. A3.


(Download UC’s Fall Class overview as a PDF)

Since affirmative action policy has been struck down by courts in Texas, there has been a sharp drop in African-American and Latino applications at the University of Texas Law School. A citizen initative helped along by the governor and others, Proposition 209 in California, is also having critical changes in the make-up of university student populations.

At UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) minority admissions (10,600 out of 29,961 applications) fell as follows:

Black and Native American 43%
Latino 33%
White 5.1% drop
Asian 0.8% rise

At UC Berkeley, describing itself as the most select public university in the U.S. and admitting only 8,304 students out of 29,961, admissions dropped:

Mexican-American 71%
Black 66% (only 191 students)
Latino (other than


Asian and white little change

UC chancellor, Robert M. Berdahl regrets current policy:

I am disappointed that our entering class will not better represent the impressive diversity that distinguishes the state. We know from our own experience that a great many of the underrepresented minority students who were not offered admission would have succeeded here and would have contributed to the excellence of our university.

These and other universities are trying other strategies to bolster minority applications and admissions. Their present systems rules that 50% to 75% of admissions must be made solely on the basis of academics. For the rest there is some allowance according to factors such as “socioeconomic circumstances, extracurricular activities, and family histories.”

Questions for Reflections and Discussion

  1. Do you think historical and cultural factors may make the playing field so unfair as to warrant affirmative action? Why or why not? Do social inequities ever call for some sacrifice of opportunities?
  2. Would you have voted for Prop 209, or a similar proposition in your state or country? How do you feel about the results of that bill described here?
  3. In your opinion, why are race, ethnicity and class increasingly troubling issues in so much of the world?


  1. Americans allow a short time-span for the correction of social injustices.
  2. Each generation needs to review factors behind current social inequities.
  3. Neglected inequities can lead to greater trouble in the long run.
  4. The encouragement and education of minority students are important for the healing of wounds and for the health of any society.

Dean Borgman
© 2018 CYS

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