Saturday, June 12, 2010

Hilarious clip from the Daily Show about Chinese language instruction in Hacienda Heights:

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Letter of Support and Solidarity to UCSD Black Student Union

March 1, 2010

To the UCSD Black Student Union and their allies:

We, the members of Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW! (APIEL NOW!) at UC Berkeley, are outraged by the racist, hostile, and demoralizing events that have transpired over the past two weeks at UC San Diego. We stand in full solidarity with your struggle to push the UCSD administration both to change its institutionalized practices of racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia and to commit to creating a safe and empowering living and learning environment for the African-American community and other historically underrepresented communities of color on campus.

Far from being isolated incidents of racism at UCSD that can be addressed through teach-ins, the “Compton Cookout,” the racially derogatory comments made by SR-TV, and the noose found hanging in the UCSD library collectively point to the deeper problems of institutional racism and marginalization both within and outside of the education system that perpetuate these kind of ignorant and hateful acts. In a joint statement, the UC President and the Chancellors condemn the racist incidents and state that they “reflect neither our principles nor the values, nor the sentiments of the University of California community,” yet it is clear to all communities of color that condemnation alone does not create real change, nor does it begin to address the real root of the problem: the continued segregation of public schools; the lack of stable and fully-funded resources to recruit, retain, and support students of color in all levels of education; the repeated division of labor along racial, gender, and class lines; the barriers that continually deny underrepresented communities access to public services such as affordable health care, decent housing, stable jobs, decent working conditions, and adequate representation; and the failure of the educational system to build awareness about and to teach students about racism, classism, sexism, homophobia, and the need for affirmative action.

We in APIEL NOW! recognize that the fight communities of color face in higher education is against an administration that neither prioritizes students, faculty and workers of color, nor is willing to transform the higher education system into one that actually acknowledges and actively seek to fight the daily oppression and exclusion that underrepresented communities of color face. We are outraged that even though African American students make up only 1.3% of the student population at UCSD, the UC administration still plans to implement a new admissions policy in 2012 that will effectively decrease the number of African American students previously eligible for guaranteed admission to UC by nearly 50%. “Representation” and “diversity” at the UC are both empty terms. Having representation from historically underrepresented communities on a campus does not mean that they are equal, nor does it mean that their peers will automatically have, and more importantly, practice a critical understanding of the history of violence, repression, and exclusion that underrepresented communities face on a daily basis.

We fully support the demands that you have raised, all of which point to key ways to build permanent and institutionally-supported classes, programs, support services (academic, emotional, financial), and spaces that will create a welcoming campus climate and learning environment actively shaped by the African American community’s and historically underrepresented ethnic communities’ concerns and demands.

We stand behind your demand that UCSD better educate the campus about underrepresented communities’ histories through mandated diversity sensitivity requirements in African-American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Gender Studies, and we hope that the university will develop these departments so they have the breadth and depth necessary to give students a comprehensive understanding of the struggles that underrepresented communities of color face in a society that is still fundamentally divided and racist. The budget cuts are no excuse for not making immediate changes to a deeply flawed curriculum and educational system. The San Francisco Unified School District, for example, where 90% of the K-12 students are nonwhite, just approved a pilot program last week that will add Ethic Studies classes to their high school curriculum. Alongside UCSD BSU, we will continue to fight to make Ethnic Studies, African-American Studies, Gender and Woman Studies, Chicana/o Latina/o Studies, Native American Studies, Middle-Eastern Studies, Asian Pacific Islander American Studies, and South/Southeast Asian Studies an integral part of every K-UC school.

Today, we watched the Black community at UC Berkeley stand in front of Sather Gate for two-and-a-half hours in silent solidarity with you and pass out literature to the rest of the student body – literature that documented both the acts of hatred that took place at UCSD, as well as every racist incident that has taken place against the Black community at UC Berkeley for the past nine years. Next Monday, we will stand in solidarity at Sather Gate with you and with them when they hold their second nonviolent, silent demonstration at Sather Gate. We are ready to help in whatever way we can to fight for the rights of those in our communities who have been marginalized and oppressed.

In solidarity and struggle,

Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!

UC Berkeley

Monday, March 1, 2010

Petition in Solidarity with Black Students at UCSD

Please visit and sign the following petition in solidarity with Black students at UC San Diego.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Basic Fact Sheet on the 2012 Admissions Policy


+ Starting in 2012, the percentage of California students eligible for guaranteed admission to the UC system will decrease from 12.5% to 10%. The new policy eliminates the requirement for 2 SAT II Subject Tests and creates a new category of students who are “entitled to a review of application, but not guaranteed admission.“

+ If the policy had been in effect in 2007, 18,000 fewer California high school students would have been eligible for guaranteed admission to the UC system.

+ The new criteria cut eligibility for guaranteed admission across the board, but minorities bear an inequitable share of the lost guarantees. If the policy had been in effect in 2007, 50% fewer African Americans, 42% fewer Chicano/Latinos, 41% fewer Filipinos, 39% fewer Pacific Islanders, and 36% fewer Asian Americans would have been eligible for guaranteed admission. The number of whites would decrease only 23%. (These declines are not a projected simulation, but based purely on a bright-line test of eligibility).

+ The policy results in increased reliance on SAT Reasoning Test Scores to determine eligibility for guaranteed admission.

+ Although the policy creates a more diverse pool of students “eligible for review,“ this change will fail to increase diversity since comprehensive review at UC campuses is already under pressure to decrease in-state enrollment and increase out-of-state enrollment. Reducing the percentage of CA students guaranteed admission to UC and replacing it with “entitlement to review” exposes in-state enrollment to systematic erosion during times of budget crisis. (Already at UC Berkeley, the number of Latino freshmen who enroll next year could decline by 18%, the number of black freshmen by 13%, and the number of first-generation freshmen by 15%).

+ Although Yudof and the administration claim that this policy will increase diversity at UC, the results of three simulation studies suggest that this policy will either have "race neutral" effects or will decrease African American enrollment anywhere from 27%-33%, decrease Latino enrollment by nearly 3%, and decrease Asian American enrollment by 11%. Proposition 209, which eliminated affirmative action in 1998, led to a decline in African American admissions by 12.6%.

Where can I find information that supports the policy?


Come to our next organizing meeting on Tuesday, March 2nd from 4-6 PM in the Multicultural Center (MLK Student Union)

For more info, contact API Education and Languages Now! ( or

Response to Durant Hall Occupation Statements

I want to respond briefly to the various accounts that describe the history of Durant Hall and why it was occupied.

The "Occupy California" website states that "Durant Hall had once been a haven for East Asian Language studies, but is now being remodeled into another administration building."

Reclaim UC states: "No longer is there any trace of the library it once was -- the East Asian Library, now moved across campus to a new building named after an insurance mogul who founded the notorious AIG. Language has been uprooted, pruned, and replanted as well. The Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures went with the library, and in the process lost half its Japanese, Korean, and Chinese classes as well as the faculty that taught them -- over 1,500 curious students will be turned away this year."

Durant Hall was far from a "haven" for the Asian language lecturers who were continually marginalized, disenfranchised, and excluded on a daily basis in their departments within that building -- something that continues today. The language programs have been slashed for years, so the claim that EALC "went with the library" is, I think, a false one: these programs had been disappearing for years as the result of a slow but continuous slashing of sections and funding even before the library moved from Durant Hall to the new C.V. Starr Library in 2008. When the administration threatened in 2008 to cut the language programs and lecturers by upwards of 50%, students and lecturers held massive protests and press conferences and were in fact able to reverse those cuts. This is not to say that everything is fine in EALC because those cuts were reversed -- things are far from fine. Budget cuts continue to shave away language classes one section at a time; the language lecturers -- particularly pre-six lecturers -- continue to bear the burden of the cuts because of their weak job security; students on overflowing waiting lists are turned away from language sections because the university refuses to open up more sections, to hire more instructors, and to acknowledge that there has been and continues to be a very real demand for these classes that the university is not meeting. Yet it is absolutely essential to understand the actual internal politics of Durant Hall and EALC before publishing statements like "Why Durant Hall?" and "The Durant Riot: Initial Brief," both of which disguise the fact that Durant Hall was in fact a symbol of repression for the very language lecturers who worked inside of it as well as a symbol of vast inequalities between the EALC literature program and the EALC language program.

I know that these statements were made with the best of intentions and I appreciate that Reclaim UC is giving attention to a program that has been and continues to be devalued by the administration, but please make sure that these statements are factually correct before passing them out to the campus community. We have a great opportunity here to reach out to a segment of the campus community that has been actively fighting for EALC language programs and lecturers for years, but in order to do that we need to understand EALC and Durant Hall's true history and politics. If you're interested in learning more, APIEL NOW! (Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!), EALC lecturers and SSEAS lecturers have been working on a task force report that documents these inequalities and the long degeneration of the programs in detail.

-- Katherine Lee

Saturday, February 27, 2010

APIEL NOW! Statement on 2012 Admissions Policy

Diversity at Risk

A statement by APIEL NOW! (Asian Pacific Islander Education and Languages NOW!)

February 20, 2010

Making students jump through admissions hoops is essential to a world-class university's prestige. However, for students of color and students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds, that hoop is about to shrink in size. Proposed by UC President Mark Yudof and approved by the UC Regents, the new UC admissions policy, set to go into effect in 2012, is a deceptive piece of work that actually reduces the percentage of high school students guaranteed admission to at least one UC campus while masking its true nature by expanding the pool of applicants eligible to apply. Although these reductions in guaranteed admissions will affect all applicants, this policy will disproportionately impact students of color.

There are three main features of the new admissions policy: it reduces the percentage of students guaranteed admission to a UC from the top 12.5% of statewide high school graduates to the top 10%; it eliminates the SAT II Subject Test as a UC requirement; and it increases the percentage of seniors who are guaranteed admission within each high school ("Eligibility in Local Context") from the top 4% of a high school graduating class to the top 9%. Overall, this policy will expand the pool of applicants eligible to apply to UC by as many as 30,000 students, which, according to Yudof and UC Academic Senate Chair Mary Croughan, will “increase opportunity” and allow well-qualified students who have not taken the subject tests to have their application considered for comprehensive review.

While there are several positive aspects of the new policy – particularly in decisions to expand both the Eligibility in Local Context and the pool of applications that UC will review – there are critical problems with the policy's implementation that severely compromise its overall effectiveness and intended goals.

First, this policy relies on a murky category of students who are “entitled to review, but not guaranteed admission,” thus deflecting attention from the administration's reduced commitment to hard admissions guarantees. By eliminating the SAT II Subject Test which admittedly has been a barrier for students in lower socioeconomic classes and many minorities as a UC requirement, the policy does allow more students to apply to UC than under the current policy; yet having one’s application reviewed does not guarantee admission, particularly at a time when campuses like UC Berkeley are cutting back in-state enrollment in order to save money. According to UC Office of the President's (UCOP) own data, approximately 18,000 fewer CA high school graduates would have been eligible for guaranteed UC admission had this policy been in effect in 2007.

Second, the elimination of the SAT II as a UC requirement means that the criteria for deciding the top 10% of high school graduates statewide will be more heavily based on scores from the SAT I, a test that privileges groups with access to test-prep. resources.

Yet, in the policy's defense, the administration argues that the percentage of students eligible for admission in their local context will increase and thereby level the playing field for students from poorer schools. As UCOP studies show, such a boon, however, is nullified by the overall reduction in guaranteed admissions. Although the pool of students eligible to apply might be larger and more diverse, the actual group of students eligible for guaranteed admissions will be increasingly homogeneous. According to a California Postsecondary Education Commission eligibility study, 50% fewer African Americans, 42% fewer Chicano/Latinos, 41% fewer Filipinos, 39% fewer Pacific Islanders, and 36% fewer Asian Americans would have been eligible for guaranteed admission had the policy been effective in 2007.

In short, this policy does not validate the UC Regents' claim that it will increase diversity on UC campuses. Of the three UCOP simulation studies, two demonstrated that this policy would be damaging to diversity in student admissions, and one showed negligible impact. If the best case scenario results in a neutral outcome and the worst indicates a drastic decrease in diversity, then we must question the university administration's folly in implementing this policy.

The 2012 admissions policy, as with recent decisions to reduce the size of the incoming freshman class while increasing out-of-state and international enrollment from 12 to 23 percent, creates the most devastating climate for diversity in the UC system since the passage of Proposition 209. The promise of “entitled to review, but not guaranteed admission” is ultimately a hollow one. What is necessary now more than ever is a policy that can deliver tangible results--not a policy that, under the cloak of increasing diversity, permits the university to accept fewer qualified in-state students.

The university administration has argued that Californians must communicate their concerns for public education to Sacramento. Yet we submit that the university itself must act, in principled and forthright ways, to preserve a public vision for the UC system. For starters, the administration must rescind its disastrous 2012 admissions policy.

Patrick Hayashi's Letter to the Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity

January 30, 2010

Dear Professor Lu,

Thank you for inviting me to share my thoughts about UC’s new Freshman Eligibility Policy with you and other members of the University Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity.

First, let me introduce myself. I served as associate vice chancellor for admissions and enrollment at the Berkeley campus from 1988 to 1998. In that capacity, I was responsible for first strengthening and then dismantling the campus’s affirmative action admissions program. I participated in the development of comprehensive admissions at Berkeley. I then served as associate president under UC President Richard Atkinson from 1999 until my retirement in 2004. I worked with Dick primarily on admissions issues. I assisted him in extending comprehensive admissions to all UC campuses. I worked with him when he challenged the College Board to change the SAT. I have worked with the College Board in many capacities. I was a member of the national commission chaired by Derek Bok and David Gardner that examined the future of standardized admissions tests. I later served on a national commission that examined the Advanced Placement program. From 2000 through 2004, I served as a trustee of the College Board. After retiring, I launched a national campaign questioning the National Merit Scholars Program on the grounds that it was based on false notions of merit that were racially biased and educationally unsound. (See Brent Staples, “A Broader Definition of Merit,” NY Times, October 1, 2008.) I began by writing an article titled “The Merits of the National Merit Scholars Program: Questions and Concerns.” I later worked closely with Professor Michael Brown, then vice chair of the Academic Council, as he raised questions concerning the program’s fairness. I believe Michael would acknowledge that our joint efforts laid the basis for UC’s decision to stop participating in the program.

My academic training is in public policy where I did my dissertation on UC admissions policies under the direction of Martin Trow. Marty served as chair of the Academic Council in 1997-98. He strongly supported Proposition 209; I strongly opposed it. Marty and I disagreed on many things, but he was my mentor and friend. Marty showed me how to think about educational policy. He taught me to pay particular attention to negative evidence, evidence that might suggest that a strongly held position might be wrong. That is why I am writing.

I am deeply disturbed by UC’s new policy because I fear it could reverse all the good work UC has done over the past several decades to increase admission of minority students, particularly underrepresented students. UC’s latest simulations indicate that the new policy may result in dramatic reductions in minority student admissions at all or nearly all of the campuses. African Americans could be hit the hardest. They might drop by nearly thirty percent.

I believe that UC’s projections raise several fundamental questions that need to be asked and answered.

Why didn't UC do the simulations before adopting the new Freshman Eligibility Policy? These simulations would have sparked intense and important debate. All public policy is aimed at improving the future and an essential step in the development of all public policy is to estimate how that policy might impact different sectors of society. Such assessments will necessarily be rough approximations, but they are essential. To adopt a policy without estimating its future impact would be like buying a pig in a poke. Nevertheless, that seems to be exactly what has happened. UC adopted a policy without any clear idea about how that policy could injure the most disadvantaged groups in our society.

Why is UC ignoring its own analyses? UC sold the new policy on the grounds that it is fairer than the policy it replaces and will result in greater racial and ethnic diversity. Now its own analyses show the opposite, that the new policy could dramatically reduce racial/ethnic diversity. How can this be? One possible reason is that the new policy reduces the number of students guaranteed admission by 20 percent. Under the new policy, the top 10 percent rather than the top 12 ½ percent of high school graduates will be guaranteed admission. In other words, the new policy will lop off the bottom quintile of UC-eligible students who would have been guaranteed admission. It is likely that, as compared to white and Asian American students, a higher percentage of African American and Hispanic students would have been in this bottom quintile. If so, the new policy will have a disproportionately negative impact on underrepresented students as compared to white and Asian American students.

UC’s simulations indicate that the new policy could have disastrous effects on minority students, in general, and on underrepresented students, in particular. UC’s projections show that African Americans might suffer devastating losses. The drop in African American admissions might greatly exceed any that has ever occurred in UC’s history. African American admissions might decline anywhere from between 27 percent to 33 percent. By way of comparison, when implemented in 1998, Proposition 209 resulted in a decline in African American admissions of about 12.6 percent.

UC has said that these simulations should not be taken as precise numeric predictions but rather as indicators of the direction and magnitude of probable change. This is a reasonable caveat. Even so, the simulations show that the new policy could have a substantial negative effect on minority students. The new policy could have over twice the negative impact of Proposition 209 on African Americans admissions

What changes in applicant patterns would lead to an increase rather than a decrease in minority admissions?

UC says that its simulations should not be taken seriously because they do not take into account possible changes in application patterns that may result from the new policy. We must ask, therefore, what changes in applicant patterns would have to take place for minority students admissions to increase rather than decrease as predicted by UC’s simulations? For example, what changes in applicant patterns would have to take place for African American admissions to increase rather than decrease? The answer to this question is very troubling. For African American admissions to increase rather than decrease, African American applications would have to increase to a much greater extent than applications from all other groups. In addition, a large percentage of African American applicants would have to present higher than average grades and test scores.

At this point, some might argue that, on average, African American applicants are more disadvantaged than applicants from other groups and thus could receive preferential treatment in comprehensive review. African American applicants may be more disadvantaged, on average, than students from other groups. However, in sheer numbers, disadvantaged African American applicants would be greatly outnumbered by disadvantaged applicants from other groups. In addition, some of the admissions criteria in the new policy, e.g., the endorsement of the SAT-Reasoning test and the bonus point given for grades earned in Advanced Placement courses, are not only educationally unsound but are also racially biased. They have been shown to have a disparate negative impact on minority students, in general, and underrepresented minority students, in particular.

Do UC’s simulations underestimate possible decreases in admissions of underrepresented minorities?

I have sketched a dismal picture describing how the new Freshman Eligibility Policy could have devastating effects on underrepresented minorities. However, UC’s simulations may underestimate the negative impact the new policy could have on underrepresented students. The impact might be far worse than anticipated. Consider these possibilities:

1. The number of applicants for freshman admission increases substantially between now and 2012, but applications increase at different rates for different groups. During economic recessions, demand for higher education spikes upwards because students wisely decide that the best investment they can make is in their own education. However, the capacity to make this investment differs from group to group. It is possible, even likely, that Asian American and white student applications will increase at a greater rate than African American and Hispanic student applications.

2. The average number of campuses to which students apply increases, but at different rates for different groups. Without the safety net of redirection, many students may apply to more campuses, perhaps several more. It is possible, even likely, that Asian American and white students, on average, will apply to more campuses that African American and Hispanic students.

3. The yield rate of accepted students increases. Fee increases notwithstanding, a UC education represents a great value, arguably the very best investment a student can make. Moreover, the ability of students to attend private universities may be adversely affected by the economy. It is possible, even likely, that the percentage of admitted students who decide to enroll at UC will increase.

4. UC reduces spaces available for California residents either through enrollment reductions or increases in out-of-state admissions. I understand that UC is actively exploring these options.

I do not know if these possibilities have been explored in UC’s simulations, but if not, UC’s simulations may substantially underestimate possible drops in African American and Hispanic admissions.

Why is BOARS endorsing the racially biased SAT-Reasoning test?

UC’s unqualified endorsement of the SAT-Reasoning test is especially disturbing. UC’s own research has shown that racial and ethnic minorities and poor students score better on the SAT subject matter achievement tests. Moreover, admissions policies requiring subject matter achievement tests rather than reasoning tests send very different messages to prospective students. Achievement test requirements send the message that students should study hard and master their course work. Reasoning test requirements send the message that students should enroll in costly test-prep courses, learn test-taking strategies and master test taking tricks. This was one reason why BOAR adopted a policy favoring the achievement tests over so-called reasoning tests.

UC had a clear alternative. BOARS could have asked which kind of test is preferable from an educational and social standpoint. For guidance, they could have used the criteria developed by former UC President Richard Atkinson and former UC director of student research Saul Geiser in their paper Reflections on a Century of College Admissions Tests. Atkinson and Geiser state:

[W]e now have much better understanding of why assessment of achievement and curriculum mastery remains vital as a paradigm for admissions testing. Curriculum-based achievement tests are the fairest and most effective assessments for college admissions and have important incentive or “signaling effects” for our K-12 schools as well: They help reinforce a rigorous academic curriculum and create better alignment of teaching, learning, and assessment all along the pathway from high school to college. (Atkinson, Geiser, pg. 1)

Atkinson and Geiser’s statement should not surprise BOARS because it adopted a test policy for identical reasons:

[A]chievement-oriented tests are both useful to the University in identifying high-achieving students and philosophically preferable to tests that purport to measure aptitude (University of California, BOARS, 2002).

BOARS has chosen to ignore its own policy and instead endorse the SAT-Reasoning test and end the achievement test requirement because more students take the so-called reasoning test. BOARS’s reasoning resembles that used by high school cafeterias when they choose to serve French fries rather than vegetables because more students like French fries.

Rather than make its decision by counting heads, BOARS should have first asked which tests are better for students, which tests are superior from an educational and social standpoint. The answer is clear. The two types of tests are equivalent in their limited predictive power, but the SAT subject matter achievement tests have far less disparate negative impact on disadvantaged students and minorities than the SAT-Reasoning test. Many educators concerned with racial integration of the nation’s selective universities believe that the SAT-Reasoning test is one of the most difficult and unfair obstacles for minority applicants to surmount. BOARS itself has stated that the SAT subject matter achievement tests reinforce important educational values and goals that the SAT-Reasoning test subverts.

Why then did BOARS not work with the College Board and other testing agencies to develop a battery of subject matter achievement tests for use in admissions? It could easily have done so. UC claims that its test requirement does not constitute an endorsement of the SAT-Reasoning test. This is nonsense. High school students throughout California will regard UC’s policy as a strong, unequivocal endorsement of the SAT-Reasoning test. Over the next decade, because of UC’s policy, over a million students will be forced to take this racially biased test. Affluent students will take it several times. Through its admissions policies, UC generates more demand for the SAT than any other university in the country. UC could have easily worked with the College Board to develop a battery of SAT subject matter tests that included a writing test and a mathematics test along with other tests from which students could choose. The College Board would have had no difficulty in offering such tests because it already has them.

In sum, UC could have continued to use its stature as the nation’s pre-eminent public university to advocate for better, fairer tests. Instead of continuing UC’s leadership role begun by President Atkinson, BOARS chose to ignore its own policy and endorse the SAT-Reasoning test, a test that greatly disadvantages low-income students and racial/ethnic minorities. Why?

What percent of “entitled to review” applicants will be admitted?

If the number of applicants increases substantially, admissions spaces must first go to those students who are fully eligible and who have been guaranteed admission. The spaces available to those who are merely “entitled to review” will be reduced accordingly. Any reduction of spaces available for “entitled to review” students will hit underrepresented students especially hard because they are the students least represented among fully eligible students.

One key question is how many admission spaces will “entitled to review students” compete for? What percentage of these applicants will be admitted? If seventy to eighty percent of “entitled to review” applicants will be admitted, then the opportunity promised by the new policy is genuine. However, if only twenty to thirty percent will be admitted, then the opportunity will be illusory, cruelly so. UC has boasted that the new policy will greatly increase opportunity. However, the new policy might turn out to be one in which “many are called, but few are chosen.”

How can UC say that it will make quick changes to the policy should such changes be warranted?

UC’s most recent position is that the new policies should be implemented in 2012 and be given a chance to work. UC now reassures everyone that, if warranted, UC will quickly change the policy.

However, the new policy represents a fundamental change in how UC defines freshman eligibility. If UC wishes to change the new policy, it would take at least a decade to make any fundamental changes. UC would have to keep the new policy in place for at least three to five years. If UC wished to change it, Senate deliberations would take another three to five years. Then, if changes were made, high schools would have to be given at least three years advance notice. In other words, it is impossible to make fundamental changes to UC Freshman Eligibility Policy quickly. To say otherwise is disingenuous to the point of being deceitful.

Why didn’t UC consult widely before adopting the new policy?

For over fifty years, UC’s Freshman Eligibility Policy has been characterized by transparency, specificity and certainty. Every student who fulfilled basic curriculum, grade and test requirements was guaranteed admission to UC. Now, UC’s new policy will be characterized by opaqueness, vagueness and uncertainty. For the first time, determination of eligibility will rest, in part, on factors that cannot be verified. Some affluent students can and will pay thousands of dollars for help in crafting their personal essay. To justify its new approach, UC has adopted a marketing slogan coined by the College Board seventy-five or more years ago and has begun saying that the new policy will allow it to find the “diamond on the rough.” Searching for the uncut diamond may have made sense seventy-five years ago when a very small number of rural students were admitted to private colleges. But, it makes little sense now for a large, land-grant university with extensive information and outreach programs. Moreover, the responsibility of a public university to the citizens of its state is different from that of private universities. Anyone who has worked in UC admissions knows that, as a public university, UC’s most difficult responsibility is to be able to explain why it denies a student opportunity. Under the current policy, every eligible student is guaranteed a space at UC. Under the new policy, for the first time, thousands of students who fulfill UC’s basic requirements will be rejected completely without any explanation whatsoever. UC’s new policies will breed disappointment and distrust. Lawsuits will inevitably follow. Worse, for the first time in over fifty years, the question of how UC determines Freshmen Eligibility will become sharply and permanently politicized.

BOARS failed to understand UC’s civic responsibility in setting freshman eligibility standards. UC’s standards determine opportunity for millions of students. UC’s eligibility standards profoundly affect the curricular offerings and grading standards of all California high schools. UC’s Freshman Eligibility Policy has been the single most important factor in establishing and maintaining high academic standards among California’s high schools. The state has given UC authority to set its Freshman Eligibility Policy. However, UC does not set this policy for itself alone. Rather, UC sets it on behalf of all Californians. As such, UC had a solemn responsibility to consult widely before making sweeping changes to the policy. UC failed to fulfill this responsibility. BOARS did not engage in any significant discussions with political leaders or leaders of educational groups, civil rights organizations or community organizations who would have raised sharp questions about the possible effects of the new policy on disadvantaged students.

UC should listen to public concerns and rescind its policy.

I was a member of the group that called for a new freshman eligibility policy five years ago. This group included Michael Brown, Chris Edley, Bill Kidder, Jeannie Oakes, Mark Rashid and David Stern. I know that BOARS developed this new policy with the best of intentions. One of its key goals was to increase admissions of underrepresented minorities, a goal that I strongly support. However, UC’s own simulations show that this policy could have devastating effects on minority admissions. It is time for BOARS to acknowledge that it served up this policy half-baked.

Because BOARS is unwilling to listen to community concerns, UC is making it nearly politically impossible to change its new Freshman Eligibility Policy. UC has said that its new policy is educationally sounder and socially fairer than the policy it will replace. On what grounds could it later argue that the policy must be changed? On the grounds that the policy has suddenly become educationally unsound and socially unfair? If the new policy does result in drops in minority admissions, could UC then say that it wishes to change the policy because it does not like its racial/ethnic effects? In other words, by refusing to listen to public concern and by staunching defending this untested policy, UC is rapidly digging itself into a political hole.

UC is also digging itself into a legal hole. UC’s new simulations have established baseline expectations. They predict that minority admissions, particularly those of underrepresented minorities, will drop sharply at nearly all of the campuses. Any increases, rather than decreases, of admission of any of the minority groups on any campus, would have to be accompanied by disproportionate increases in that group’s application rates and enhancement of the students’ academic profiles. If they are not, many will suspect that comprehensive review has been used to conceal surreptitious and unlawful racial preferences.

Someone once said that if you find yourself in a hole, you should stop digging. UC should heed that advice, rescind the new policy and hold the public discussions that it should have held three years ago before the new policy was adopted.

BOARS obtained support for the new policy by promising, in part, that it would result in greater racial and ethnic diversity. Now, BOARS’s simulations show that racial and ethnic diversity may instead be reduced substantially. UC is now attempting to distance itself from its own projections saying that they do not provide a clear picture of what will happen.

One thing is clear. The simulations show that BOARS did not think through what the policy’s unintended consequences might be. BOARS did not analyze the possible effects of the policy on minority admissions. It is not too late for BOARS to rectify its error and reconsider the policy.

Underrepresented students have made tremendous strides during the past decade and their UC-eligibility and admission rates have increased significantly. UC’s own analyses indicate that the new policy could well reverse all the gains they have made. UC’s own simulations show that the policy could far exceed Proposition 209 in the damage it does to underrepresented minorities. If UC implements the new policy and waits to see what happens, it risks sacrificing an entire generation of minority students

This would be unconscionable.


Patrick Hayashi

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Logic of "Yield" in Calculations of Diversity:

The Logic of "Yield" in Calculations of Diversity:

It is not enough for the UC system to have policies that increase minority admissions. One often neglected issue is what the UC administration terms "yield rate": the percentage of students who receive offers of admission and then choose to enroll in the UC system.

K. Wayne Yang, an Assistant Professor of Ethnic Studies at UCSD recently wrote an open letter to the UC San Diego community. Yang makes reference to the 2007 UCSD "Yield Report" and analyzes some of the underlying causes of the UCSD's extremely low yield rate for historically underrepresented minorities (only about 13% of African American" admitted to UCSD choose to enroll there). As Professor Yang puts it, "We have a 1.3% African-American student enrollment, not simply because of poor admissions, but because admitted students don’t choose to come to UCSD."

A UC Office of the President chart lists the "Applications, Admissions, and Enrollment of California Resident Freshmen from 1995-2005." In 2005, yield rates for Asian Americans, East Indian and Pakistani Americans, and Filipino Americans were higher than the overall yield rate (53%). Yield rates for all other groups were lower -- African American and American Indian yield rates were the lowest.

Asian American: 67% (9761/14,559)
East Indian/Pakistani: 63% (957/1511)
Filipino American: 54% (1536/2833)
Other: 51% (539/1052)
Unknown: 50% (1420/2824)
Latino: 49% (1192/2431)
White: 47% (10,165/21,779)
Chicano: 47% (3460/7226)
African American: 46% (909/1961)
American Indian: 43% (144/326)

One unstated reason why President Yudof has made statements like "they'll be fine" in reference to how Asian Americans will be affected by the new 2012 admissions policy may have to do with a belief that current yield rates will remain largely the same after the policy takes effect. (E.g. even if the admissions numbers of Asian Americans go down, the yield rate will still be "high" and may even increase).

BOARS admits that the UCOP studies lack predictive power because they are unable to "model [future applicant] behavior by extrapolating on the basis of past applicant behavior." This problem is exacerbated because, "[a]s we enter an era of substantial demographic shifts and financial uncertainty, the ability to predict which students will apply and where they will apply is even more uncertain."

Of course, if neither BOARS nor UCOP can properly model future behavior based on past yield rates, then there is no clear reason why anyone should assert that Asian Americans, or any other group, will be fine.

But UCs low yield rates for underrepresented minorities do give reason for concern about the efficacy of the new 2012 admissions policy. As the UCSD Yield Report argues: "simply admitting highly qualified students to the campus does not guarantee enrollments. This is especially true for historically underrepresented minority populations."

Professor Yang points out that despite the particularly dismal yield rates at UCSD, the recommendations for structural changes at UC San Diego for improving yield have "by-and-large NOT been implemented despite 2 years of research and 3 years of reading time." Yield rates for underrepresented minorities at UCSD and other UC campuses will continue to be low without fundamental structural changes to support organizations and campus institutions that aid underrepresented students and address campus climates that dissuade minorities from attending a UC campus in the first place.

UCOP and BOARS data and responses

The UC Office of the President (UCOP) has a FAQ page on the newly adopted admissions policy.

Summary of UCOP's data on diversity impact (12/16/09).

The Academic Senate's Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS) response to concerns about diversity.