In the editorial, “Supremes should learn from Prop. 209 mistake” (Dec. 8), The Sacramento Bee’s editorial board characterized Proposition 209 as a “mistake.” The primary basis for this conclusion relates to the level of diversity at the Berkeley and Los Angeles campuses of the University of California following the passage of Prop. 209.
Arguing that Prop. 209 acted as a “chain saw” to diversity at these two campuses, the editorial board contends that the U.S. Supreme Court should preserve the permissible use of race preferences when deciding the Fisher v. University of Texas case now under consideration by the court.
There are few campuses in the world that are more diverse than UC Berkeley and UCLA, but I have learned that when the media and universities proclaim that there is a “lack of diversity,” that is a euphemistic way of saying that there are fewer black students than those institutions consider sufficient.
With a simple search of a UC website, there is a chart of admissions from 1995 through 2014. The chart reveals that in 1995 (before Prop. 209) 1,683 black students were admitted to UC university-wide. In 2014, 2,684 black students were admitted – an increase of 1,001. In 1995, 6,050 Latino students were admitted and in 2014, 18,043 Latinos, an increase of 11,993. An increase of more than 1,000 blacks and nearly 12,000 Latinos is lamented as a drop in diversity; however, at Berkeley and UCLA, the two flagship schools, the numbers have dropped.
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Berkeley and UCLA admitted, respectively, 566 and 661 black students in 1995. In 2014, the schools admitted 233 and 416, a decrease of 333 and 245, a grand total decrease of 578 black students. It is difficult to comprehend that a difference of 578 students out of more than 66,000 is sufficient for the Supreme Court to override the 14th Amendment so university administrators can proclaim effective “diversity.”
The UC system is one of the finest in the world. As a UC regent for 12 years, I witnessed the greatness of the institution, but until it stops obsessing about the increased “diversity” that might be engendered by 578 students, and uses its knowledge and research to improve K-12, the numbers won’t get any better. The problem is not Proposition 209, and the solution is not using skin color to admit students. The solution is better preparation, not preferences.
Ward Connerly is founder and president of the American Civil Rights Institute (acri.org) and the chairman of Proposition 209.