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Wednesday, December 13

By the numbers


Stanford, USC better reflect California demographics than UC

  Daily Bruin File Photo Students attend the 2000 Freshman
Convocation last fall. Since the end of affirmative action in
university admissions, the number of underrepresented minority
students at UCLA has declined.

By Kelly Rayburn

Daily Bruin Reporter


Two of California’s most prestigious private universities
reflect the state’s ethnic diversity better than do three of
its best public schools ““ even though the two private schools
draw more heavily from outside the state.

In an era when affirmative action is not permitted in University
of California admissions, Stanford and USC have slightly higher
percentages of African Americans than UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC
Santa Barbara. And while the UC schools have witnessed declining
Latino and African American numbers in recent years, the private
schools have not.

The release of data from the 2000 census last month shows
California has become more ethnically heterogeneous since 1990.
Statistics from each university’s office of budget and
planning have fostered comparisons to determine how well the
undergraduate portion of the UC and private California universities
reflect the state’s ever-changing demographics ““ the
private schools seem to be doing a better job of keeping pace.

Catherine Lhamon, a staff attorney with the American Civil
Liberties Union, a longtime supporter of pro-diversity measures,
said the UC has a moral obligation to ensure their school’s
demographics closer reflect the state’s ““ but their
hands are tied by Proposition 209, the state initiative that ended
affirmative action in 1996.

She called the lack of effort to ensure better diversity
“an evil of the loss of affirmative action.”

Kevin Nguyen, the executive director of the American Civil
Rights Institute ““ an organization dedicated to monitoring
implementation of Proposition 209 ““ disagreed, saying race
should not be a factor in admissions.

“The UC’s job is not to engage in racial
balancing,” he said. “Affirmative action is not
constitutional because it inherently involves preferential
treatment.

“You cannot talk about eliminating underrepresentation in
a finite pie, without, at the same time, talk about suppressing
overrepresented groups.”

Stanford and USC are each about 6 percent African American,
while the three UC schools are all less 4.4 percent African
American.

Neither reach California’s African American population,
which is 6.7 percent.

The three UC schools, each with about 15 percent who identified
themselves as either Latino or Chicano, have about the same
percentage of Latinos as the private schools. But Latino and
Chicano percentages at UCLA have fallen off a bit in the last few
years after a period of almost 20 years of steady increase.

USC’s Latino and Chicano populations, on the other hand,
continue to grow every year, according to Deborah Kac, a
demographer in USC’s office of budget and planning.

More than 30 percent of Californians identified themselves as
“of Hispanic origin” on the census. But those of
Hispanic origin filled out a separate question regarding race
““ the census bureau does not consider Latino or Hispanic or
Chicano to be a racial category. Many who identified themselves as
“of Hispanic origin,” checked “Other” on
the race question.

Perhaps the most conspicuous difference between the private and
public schools is the high number of white and relatively low
number of Asian American students attending the two private
universities.

Stanford and USC are each about 48 percent white, and about 24
percent Asian American.

At both UCLA and UC Berkeley, Asian Americans outnumber whites.
UC-wide, whites make up 36.7 percent of students and Asians 32.2
percent. UC Santa Barbara, which is 63 percent white, is a notable
exception.

Asians make up 10.9 percent of the state. Whites account for
59.5 percent of California’s population.

Comparing UC’s ethnic percentages to California’s
suggests that whites are underrepresented, along with Latinos and
African Americans. Furthermore, comparing UCLA’s demographics
to the state’s shows that whites are actually slightly more
underrepresented than are African Americans at UCLA. The same is
not true UC-wide.

Nguyen was not surprised by the fact that whites make up a
smaller percentage of UC schools population than of the state.

“Whites, for a long time, have been underrepresented, but
that does not mean the UC is racist,” he said.

American Indians make up 1 percent or less of each of the five
schools.

Bob Cox, a demographer with UCLA’s office of Academic
Planning and Budget, said conclusions based on comparisons between
California’s ethnic breakdown and UCLA’s ““ while
more accurate than comparing UCLA to the United States or Los
Angeles County ““ may not be as telling as they appear to be
at first glance.

“There are so many variables, I almost wouldn’t even
try (to make a comparison),” he said.

For one, the census and the UC collect data differently. UC data
is collected based simply on what a student checked on its
application. Also, applicants have more ethnic groups from which to
choose than do people filling out the census.

The census does not distinguish between Pilipino and Asian
American.

Also, many students do not disclose their ethnic background.
Last year, nearly 6 percent of UCLA students declined to state an
ethnic identification on their applications. According to Cox, many
of those students are probably white.

If that is so, then whites might be better represented than they
appear to be.

Cox did say some long-term trends are evident.

In the last 20 years, white percentages have declined, Asian
American and Latino percentages have increased, and African
American percentages have remained about the same ““ though
those long-term trends have been slightly interrupted by the
short-term effects of Proposition 209.

“It hasn’t had as much as an effect as we had
feared, though,”Cox said. “On the whole, UCLA is
tremendously diverse.”

 

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