A forum on UCLA’s holistic admissions policies planned for Wednesday has been postponed because of scheduling problems and legal concerns about the form of the discussion, according to organizers.
The forum, organized by the Undergraduate Students Association Council Academic Affairs Commission, was intended to discuss a report by UCLA law professor Richard Sander that claims the undergraduate admissions process is illegally taking race into account. The report was released on Oct. 23 and has since then sparked debate and events about the admissions process, including a rally and a separate forum held in late October.
Wednesday’s forum would have included Sander, admissions officers, the Daily Bruin editor in chief, faculty members and student leaders, said USAC Academic Affairs Commissioner Kim Davis, who was organizing the event.
The event was designed to be an open discussion between all of the participants involved in the issue and a forum for students to ask questions, Davis said.
UCLA admissions officials declined their invitations after receiving legal advice against participating in a public forum with Sander, according to an email from Janina Montero, vice chancellor of student affairs.
Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management, and Gary Clark, the new UCLA director of admission, were supposed to attend the forum with Montero. All declined to attend because of this legal advice, Montero said.
“We are happy to describe holistic review and answer general questions about the admissions selection process, but the planned format was not appropriate given the allegations about our work,” Montero said in an email.
Sander said he did not have any concerns about the format of this event and had planned to attend. Though the forum has been postponed, he said he hopes the discussions will continue.
“I welcome any opportunity to engage with folks on this issue,” Sander said. “(The organizers) were willing to bring together others that were concerned with the issue and it is essential for there to be further conversation about this.”
An open forum would have given an opportunity for people involved in the issue to answer students’ questions and explain their opinions, said Daily Bruin Editor-in-Chief James Barragan.
After being informed that admissions officials would not be present at the forum, Barragan said he made the decision not to attend the forum to prevent the newspaper from appearing biased toward Sander.
Moreover, he said it would be inappropriate to question admissions policies without officials there.
“There are a lot of issues that need to be discussed that admissions plays a huge role in,” he said. “There are a lot of things we’d like to question them about and I didn’t think it would be appropriate to ask those questions without them being there to answer.”
Davis said that because the Sander report came out in the middle of the quarter, there was not sufficient time to discuss the format of the event with all the participants.
However, she said that she plans to work with all parties in the future to find a format for the event that everyone can agree on. Some possibilities include hosting a series of forums in which Sander and UCLA admissions officials would be able to answer questions at separate events, she said.
Organizers plan to hold the event early next quarter, Davis said.