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More than 100 students marched across campus Tuesday in support of implementing affirmative action in the University of California’s admissions process and increasing diversity at UCLA.
The students demonstrated in solidarity against Proposal 2, a Michigan ballot measure that bans race-conscious university admissions, that was recently put in the national spotlight.
The U.S. Supreme Court began hearing arguments against Proposal 2 Tuesday in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action. The outcome of the case could affect whether California universities can use race as a factor in admissions if the court decides states cannot enact bans on affirmative action.
The University of California submitted a “friend of the court” brief in August, expressing support for affirmative action in university admissions. The University has repeatedly called for affirmative action to be legal in California, stating that its enrollment of underrepresented minority students decreased after Californians voted to ban affirmative action in 1996.
Another Supreme Court affirmative action case, Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, was sent back to a lower court in June because the court had not sufficiently analyzed the University of Texas’ admissions policy.
The students, including officers from the Undergraduate Students Association Council, the Afrikan Student Union and other student groups, marched from Kerckhoff Hall to the UCLA School of Law.
Students at the march carried signs and recited chants such as “We’re fired up; can’t take it no more” and “UC, UC, can’t you see, we need more diversity.”
Destiny McLennan, a second-year international development student who joined the march, said she was concerned that UCLA’s enrollment of African Americans decreased after Proposition 209, California’s affirmative action ban, passed over 16 years ago.
“How can I feel safe at this campus when I’m not surrounded by people who look like me?” McLennan said. “We need more people of color at this university.”
Some students carried signs reading “This is what equality looks like” and “How about more people like me?” during the protest
At the School of Law, protesters stopped to listen to speakers from student and alumni groups.
Darnell Hunt, the director of UCLA’s Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies and a professor in the sociology department, said he was impressed by the student speakers.
“It’s always important for students to be leaders and articulate their thoughts,” Hunt said.
He said UCLA would be more able to produce leaders if its student body reflected the ethnic makeup of the state of California.
Maryssa Hall, USAC external vice president and an organizer of the event, said she was satisfied with the event turnout. She said it can be difficult to encourage students to attend marches about national issues.
“Even though (the case’s) effects are national, it can have huge effects in the state of California,” she said.
Hall said the march was the first step of many in encouraging diversity on campus, including USAC’s support of the “Invest in Graduations, Not Incarceration; Transform Education,” or IGNITE, campaign. The campaign, adopted by the University of California Student Association, calls for state leaders to invest more funds in education instead of prisons.
A second march will be held Wednesday at noon in front of Kerckhoff Hall to protest the naming of a new building after Albert E. Carnesale. Carnesale was UCLA’s chancellor when Proposition 209 was implemented.
Correction: A second demonstration will take place Wednesday in front of Kerckhoff Hall.