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Sunday, April 29, 2012
University of California Circumvent Affirmative Action Ban
It has been over fifteen years since California passed the controversial Proposition 209, which placed a ban on the consideration of race in college admissions. Last month, the legislation was upheld once again after the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected another legal challenge to its validity.

In the year after the enactment of the ban, the number of Black, Latino and Native American students dropped by nearly half at the UC's two most prestigious campuses in Los Angeles and Berkeley. A recent Washington Post report notes that while more than half of the K-12 students in California are Latino, only 15% of the student body at Berkeley identifies as Latino. Ever since the ban-which still faces stark opposition, but led the way for similar bans on the use of race in college admissions in several other states-the University of California has tried to devise clever ways to add racial diversity to the student bodies.

The UC has increased outreach in underprivileged communities and attempted to take a more holistic look at college applications, but the highly competitive admissions standards make it all but impossible for all but the top tier students to gain admission. Since socioeconomics and race generally track so closely together, the spots go to the more academically polished students from affluent, white communities.

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley has recently instituted a new recruiting program that targets undergraduate freshman at historically black colleges. A small number of spots in a summer internship program are reserved for a specific swath of students, with the hope that Haas can increase the number of African-American students in its MBA program, without violating the affirmative action ban.

So far, the UC's attempts to circumvent the ban have not met with any formal opposition, though the equalization of diversity on school campuses still has a long way to go.


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