Wednesday, October 17

Submission: UCLA leadership must better support underrepresented communities


Dear Chancellor Gene Block, Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh and Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Jerry Kang:

Ignited by the campus climate issues and incidents of the last few years, a group of staff, faculty and students came together to create a transparent space for concerned members of UCLA to engage in open conversations addressing campus climate and articulating transformative visions for the inaugural vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion, Dr. Jerry Kang. On April 23, 2015, over 200 staff, faculty, undergraduates, graduate students, alumni and community members gathered in Pauley Pavilion for the Forum to Reclaim Diversity.

For 16 weeks prior to the forum, the organizers held a series of town halls, focus groups and listening tours facilitated by trusted leaders across campus to design this forum. This letter collects the insights and recommendations generated out of the forum’s 10 workshops, as well as ongoing discussions generated by participating members of the UCLA community. Rooted in values of equity, inclusion, diversity and activism, we hope our documentation can serve as one of many tools that will support the onboarding and success of the new Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

The creation of this office alone will not be enough. As evidenced by the Moreno Report and failures in Title IX enforcement, as well as other failures to adequately address campus climate, it is apparent that UCLA, as an institution, has not prioritized the Regents Policy 4400: Policy on University of California Diversity Statement:

“The University particularly acknowledges the acute need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented students, faculty and staff from historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.”

These underrepresented populations – including people of color and new immigrants, people with both visible and invisible disabilities, people who identify as women, people of various gender and sexual identities and expressions and people from economically disadvantaged backgrounds – are integral to the university’s stated mission, to strive for “excellence and diversity, recognizing that openness and inclusion produce true quality.” We are optimistic that the UCLA administration created the position of vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion in order to facilitate meaningful and consequential steps that ensure all members of the UCLA community feel safe, supported and valued.

To that end we have identified a number of shared priorities toward accomplishing this goal arising from the forum’s collective conversations and written feedback: 1) Remove institutional barriers for recruitment, admission and retention of underrepresented students; 2) Provide funds, administrative resources and incentives to encourage the hiring, retention and promotion of faculty from marginalized backgrounds and importantly, faculty supportive of diversity work on campus; 3) Encourage hiring, retention and promotion of staff from marginalized backgrounds and, more generally, staff who are supportive of diversity work on campus; 4) Increase resources and support infrastructure that enable student, staff and faculty participation and engagement in changing campus climate within their contexts; 5) Improve student, staff and faculty access to counseling resources that are responsive to the particular needs of marginalized campus populations; 6) Improve approaches to collecting and reporting on data and metrics related to campus climate; 7) Improve approaches to supporting survivors of sexual harassment and assault on campus; and 8) Increase support for UCLA community members with different abilities.

The outline above is a starting point for issues articulated by members of the UCLA community. This list, which is further detailed in the document’s appendix, is not meant to be exclusive or exhaustive. The participants at the Forum to Reclaim Diversity, as well as many other UCLA students, staff, faculty and alumni, are committed to improving campus climate at UCLA. In order to prove that these goals are truly shared, the institution needs more than communication strategies without action. As supportive members of the UCLA community, we require meaningful recognition and support for our work as well as ongoing political will from senior administrative leadership across campus, to realize the ongoing project of creating an equitable and just UCLA.

We are emboldened by the recent successes of the Black Student Union at UC Berkeley, which made similar demands of its university leadership. As a result of BSU’s struggle, Berkeley’s Chancellor Dirks answered these demands with resources, policy and other action. We are hopeful that you, our campus administrative leadership, will respond to the needs and vision outlined by your constituents with immediate, concrete and public steps to address the present shortcomings of institutional policies and practices.

Kareem Elzein, third-year graduate student in education

Olufemi Taiwo, second-year graduate student in philosophy

Devin Murphy, fifth-year African-American studies and political science student

Sarah Rahimi, alumna

Ayesha Khan, alumna

Grace Kyungwon Hong, associate professor of Asian American studies and gender studies

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  • Stoßtrupp

    So among the underrepresented demographics, that is to say, non-Asians in UCLA…

    African American / Black1,189 4.0%

    American Indian / Alaska Native157 0.5%

    Asian / Pacific Islander9,933 33.5%

    Hispanic5,663 19.1%

    White8,028 27.1%domestic,

    race/ethnicity unknown927 3.1%

    international3,736 12.6%

    If the int’l students are excluded, we get these proportions:

    African American / Black: 0.045912654
    American Indian / Alaska Native: 0.006062478
    Asian / Pacific Islander: 0.383557941
    Hispanic: 0.218673978
    White: 0.309997297

    Therefore we can actually look at to what extent these groups are under or overrepresented compared to state demographics, which is, after all, what a UC is supposed to represent.

    State demographics:

    White alone, percent, 2014 (a)73.2%

    Black or African American alone, percent, 2014 (a)6.5%

    American Indian and Alaska Native alone, percent, 2014 (a)1.7%

    Asian alone, percent, 2014 (a)14.4%

    Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander alone, percent, 2014 (a)0.5%

    Hispanic or Latino, percent, 2014 (b)38.6%

    So dividing the percentage of each demographic by the percentage of the equivalent group in the state population we get the degree to which each group is over or underrepresented, with figures bigger than one showing overrepresentation and figures smaller than one showing underrepresentation:

    0.706348523 African American / Black
    0.356616369 American Indian / Alaska Native
    1.977102789 Asian /Pacific Islander
    0.566512896 Hispanic
    0.423493575 White

    So one thing we see is that all groups are underrepresented except for Asians. But if you look at the degree, whites are under-represented to a GREATER EXTENT than are other groups excep for Amrindians. Blacks are CONSIDERABLY better represented than whites and Hispanics slightly so. If you guys really want to make the campus “representative”, maybe it’s time to enroll more Whites and Amerindians.
    http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/06000.html
    https://www.admissions.ucla.edu/campusprofile.htm

    • 42plantthee

      “But if you look at the degree, whites are under-represented to a GREATER EXTENT than are other groups excep for Amrindians. Blacks are CONSIDERABLY better represented than whites and Hispanics slightly so. If you guys really want to make the campus “representative”, maybe it’s time to enroll more Whites and Amerindians.”

      LOL. I was going to respond, but this is pure foolishness.

      It’s so amazing how someone took the time to actually calculate to make an illogical conclusion.

      “Therefore we can actually look at to what extent these groups are under or overrepresented compared to state demographics, which is, after all, what a UC is supposed to represent.”

      You do realize we have out-of-state-students? Probably not.

      Troll harder.

      • Stoßtrupp

        I’m aware that UCLA has out of state students, but as an institution of the State of California, it seems reasonable to expect the UC to be representative of California. If one were to compare UCLA’s racial demographics with that of the entire US, Asians would be even more over-represented (since Cali has a higher proportion of Asians than the entire country) and all other groups will be under-represented.

        When someone says certain groups are “under-represented”, what does that actually mean? Compared to what population (eg “residents of California”, “residents of the United States”, “all humans on earth”) are these groups being under-represented, and what does equitable representation look like?

        Take this statement for example:
        “These underrepresented populations – including …people who identify as women”

        According to US News, UCLA has a “gender distribution of 44.3 percent male students and 55.7 percent female students”.

        In California, the ratio of m:f is 49.8%: 50.2%, and the US has a m:f ratio of 49.1% :50.9%. By both counts, UCLA undergraduate admissions clearly over-represents women in aggregate. As we all know, some departments over-represent men whereas others over-represent women, but the article doesn’t seem to talk about that. That being said, undergraduate admissions (as opposed to graduate admissions) are done by school not the department so it seems like a reasonable unit of aggregation.

        The statements in the DB article fails to define what “under-representation” is, in terms of the level of aggregation (each class, department or the whole school?) and in terms of what population relative to which UCLA under-represents these groups (US population? Cali population?). If one’s goals are obscured enough, it becomes impossible to achieve these goals, and if the goals remain legitimate in the eyes of the authorities, this gives the complainers the ability to engage in rentseeking continuously.

        As disclosure, I have never been rejected from UCLA. I’m not even white, I just find all this very strange.

        http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-colleges/ucla-1315
        http://www.iowadatacenter.org/datatables/UnitedStates/usstsexratio2000.pdf

        • Stoßtrupp

          Correction:
          I noticed that the census data was out of date (2000). However, my point still stands:
          UCLA sex ratio is .795 whereas 2010 US ratio is .967 and 2010 Cali ratio is 98.8.

          • 42plantthee

            @sto_trupp:disqus @paisonius:disqus, telling me that white students are underrepresented at UCLA is pure bullshit. I do not have to outline that to you.

            You two just reinforce the anti-student of color sentiment here at UCLA. Congratulations.

          • Stoßtrupp

            Would you care to define what under-representation is then?

            The percentage of whites enrolled in UCLA is lower than both the state and national percentage of the same demographic, and the degree to which whites are “under-represented” compared to the state percentage is greater than the degree to which blacks are “under-represented” compared to the state percentage.

            If under-representation is NOT having a lower proportion of individuals from that demographic than would be reasonably (usually defined as within a certain standard deviation) expected from a simple random sample of the population, then what would it be? This is more or less what gov measures based on Executive Order 11246 and subsequent amendments, as enforced by the OFCCP defines as discrimination in employment with federal contractors.

          • 42plantthee
          • 42plantthee
          • Stoßtrupp

            The first one does not actually define UR

            For the second one, it seems to use the same definition of UR that I do, although for BAs not enrollment.
            >In California, almost 40% of European American adults hold a BA degree, as do 23% of African Americans and 48% of Asians. However, only 11% of adult Latinas/os hold a BA degree or higher. Given that the majority of the school age population in the state is now Latina/o, this undereducation is not just an urgent problem, but foreshadows economic disaster for California.
            Notice that the OP says
            “The University particularly acknowledges the acute need to remove barriers to the recruitment, retention, and advancement of talented students, faculty and staff from historically excluded populations who are currently underrepresented.”

            So UR in both enrollment and other areas ought to be considered. Furthermore, your second link looks at the current state of all latinos and uses that to warn about the current school age population, which may or may not reflect aggregates.

            The third link uses the exact same definition of UR that I do.
            The fourth link uses the same definition of UR that I do but is adjusted.

            The fifth link does not define UR.

            The sixth one defines UR as “low-income students, minority students, and first-generation college students” which defines who is UR a priori without empirical justification. Perhaps they really are underrepresented numerically but that definition does not seem to care.

          • 42plantthee

            Also, what are your thoughts of Hollywood with people of color? LOL Can’t wait to hear it!

          • Stoßtrupp

            I don’t really watch movies so I don’t care.

      • Paisonius

        “This is pure foolishness.”
        [Here's where I didn't give you any reasons as to why I think this statement is foolish and where I didn't cite any sources to back up my claim.]

        “It’s so amazing how someone took the time to actually calculate to make an illogical conclusion.”
        [Still hasn't added anything of value. No evidence, claims, sources to back up claims. Nothing].

        “You do realize we have out-of-state-students? Probably not.”

        [Here's where I would have outlined the scope of the problem, instead of intentionally leaving its scope nebulous.]

        How about you give the rest of everyone else a break and refrain from posting unless you actually have an opinion on this piece formed from actually knowing what you’re talking about, you shortbusser. By not providing any rationale for your reasons you’ve stamped yourself as a waste case; if you’re a student at UCLA then congratulations! You took a spot from somebody more qualified for the sake of ‘diversity’!