UC Admissions--Proposition 209

July 16, 2011
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Before 1998, the different subsections of the University of California gave certain races an advantage in admissions. Several people claimed that this was racist and unjust. Proposition 209, stating that racial and sex preference was banned from state university admissions, employment, and contracting was passed in 1996 but did not become affective until 1998. Though the point of the Proposition was to give majorities a more fair chance to get into universities, it ended up making it so disadvantaged minorities had a more difficult time being admitted into colleges. Preferences for disadvantaged races in university admissions is important because several ethnicities (such as African-American) have been discriminated against for generations and often live in a culture in which they are surrounded by poverty and poorly educated role models. Without Proposition 209, disadvantaged minorities would have an easier opportunity to attend college and excel, so both the minorities and the universities would be better off.
Society has said that giving one ethnicity an advantage in admissions makes it so that someone of a different race does not get into the university, even if the rejected party has better merit (e.g. GPA and SAT scores). This is wrong because it is necessary to separate admission standards for different races in order for certain ethnicities to progress.Admission statistics, after Propositon 209 took affect, shows that the proposition did not affect whites by as much as hoped it would. In 1998, at the University of California, Berkeley only 191 Black students were admitted, compared to the 562 black students admitted the previous year--a decline of 34%. Admissions for Hispanics in 1998 was 434, down from the 1,045 admitted in 1997. Meanwhile, the number of whites decreased by only 51 students in 1998 at Berkeley. After Proposition 209 there was only a 2% difference in the number of white students admitted to the university, meanwhile 34% of black people were affected in a negative way. It is clear that white people (a major ethnicity at the University of California, Berkeley) were barely affected when admission officers were banned from giving minorities advantages in the admission process, meanwhile blacks and Hispanics decreased by a lot. That seems more unfair than a few whites being rejected. This proposition was passed in hope that more meritoriously achieved students (mainly whites) would be admitted to universities, instead of minorities, that may not have as high of merits, admitted in the white’s place.
In 1973, Allan Bakke applied to the University of California Medical School at Davis (UCD) and was denied admission. Several students with lower GPA and MCAT scores than Bakke were admitted because they were minorities. Bakke went on to sue UCD with the claim that he was excluded on racial grounds. After he sued the university, the Court eliminated the special admissions program and stated that “race could be a ‘plus’ factor in making admissions decisions but could not set specific quotas for matriculating minority students.” (Martin & Sullivan). Bakke had a functional family and had received good education growing up, so his being rejected left an opening for someone who did not have all the privileges and opportunities Bakke had. Bakke had the ability to attend different medical schools after being denied by Davis, but if he had taken a minorities spot, it is possible that minority would not have made it into a different school. The average black freshman's GPA is a 3.43 compared to an average GPA of 3.89 for a whites. This fact may make you think that a university or school would do better without minorities because of their lower grades, but that’s not what is intended. If more and more blacks are admitted, then they could influence other blacks to go to college and do well. Professors at UCSD can only teach lessons when three different races are involved. Hanna Rosin, creator of DoubleX and an editor for the Atlantic, wrote about a professor who proposed that she would teach on Asians, Irish and Jews, but her proposal was rejected on the grounds that both Irish and Jews are white. In this case the university is stressing the importance of diversity, but in admissions they are not acknowledging how their schools are less diverse with Proposition 209 in affect. These facts show that by letting in minorities, you are giving that person who didn’t have the same privileges and opportunities growing up, the chance to attend college and excel.
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where 60% of my middle school was African-American. I learned through experience in Pittsburgh that ever since blacks were discriminated against by whites, much of the black culture has not progressed in a positive manner. In my experience, the past several generations of blacks have been poorly educated and unmotivated. The fact that so many blacks (as well as other minorities) have been applying to universities is astonishing. You could say giving different ethnicities certain privileges is discrimination, but really it is helping the minorities, and in turn, helping the minorities benefits our society. Proposition 209 stops people--specifically admissions officers--from recognizing the different circumstances in which a person grows up, and giving them the chance to prove themselves. Admissions officers should give different ethniciteis and minorities advantages in admissions. Proposition 209 keeps universities from valuing minorities, and Proposition 209 should not be in affect.





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