Thursday, May 28

Lydiette De Jesus: Claims of racial bias in admissions are ignorant, perpetuate racism

Leann Woo/Daily Bruin

Sleep-deprived summer-session students were unpleasantly surprised by a poster last week which brazenly argued UCLA is racially biased because it admits more African-American students than it should. “UCLA violates Prop 209 to discriminate against White and Asian students in favor of Blacks,” it read.

The seemingly polite and factual language of the poster penetrated the reader’s mind with one message: some African-American students did not deserve to get admitted to UCLA.

Freedom of speech is an enormous privilege but sometimes it lets ignorant preconceptions fester in society. This poster does just that: It’s an extended, ignorant comment disguised by statistical “facts” and deceiving statistics.

If this was a poster on a wall that everyone ignored there would be no issue. However, there are a large number of people that accept these beliefs as truth, which damages the state of race relations in this country. These beliefs are incorrect and need to be more forcefully refuted.

For example, the current presidential campaign, which brings to attention racial issues such as undocumented immigrant deportations, Islamophobia and the Black Lives Matter movement, has incited some people to express their racist and ignorant comments loudly. Such preconceptions have no boundaries. They are present everywhere, including UCLA.

And these sentiments aren’t new. Two years ago, former UCLA economics professor Tim Groseclose, vocalized the alleged unfair admissions process of UCLA.

With the end of affirmative action in 1996, institutions such as UCLA are prohibited from giving preferential treatment based on race. The argument of affirmative action opponents is supported by the assumption that African-American students did not deserve to be admitted to UCLA but instead were illegally preferred because of their race.

The poster argues that even though affirmative action is illegal in California, UCLA has found a loophole and is accepting too many African Americans. It argues that 33 percent less African-American students would be accepted if admissions were fair.

However, this argument strongly depends on a sense of arrogance, entitlement and superiority. It implies that African-American students who were accepted to UCLA do not actually deserve an education there.

In reality, the numbers and percentages that the poster spits seem significant at first but according to the 2014-2015 school year undergraduate profile, 3 percent of the incoming freshman class was African-American, compared to 30 percent and 27 percent of incoming white and Asian students respectively. This was little change from the 2013-2014 school year profile where the incoming African-American student population was still 3 percent, while the White and Asian percentages fluctuated, being 28 percent and 30 percent respectively.

Using the data regarding both the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 freshman profiles, the poster is arguing against the enrollment of approximately 57 African-American students, 0.0099 percent of the incoming freshman population at UCLA. Knowing this, the argument that 33 percent less African Americans should’ve been admitted sounds foolishly racist.

The diction of the poster was specific and telling. It finished by echoing the infamous slogan of the 2016 Republican presidential candidate, Donald Trump: “Make UCLA great again.”

It seems that since what the author wants is for less black people to be admitted, then a “great UCLA” would be for less African-American students to be accepted and enrolled.

UCLA does not admit African-American students at the expense of other students, and saying so is not only ignorant but also racist. In a time where there are accusations, allegations and strong stereotypes made about various minority groups, it is especially important to pay close attention and be critical of what you hear, especially when it seems to target or isolate a large group of people.

Also, pretending that the admission of African-American students can be “too high” as if their admission couldn’t possibly be fair reveals that there are antagonistic racist ideologies that infiltrate higher institutions in the land of the (supposedly) free.

African-American students should not have to feel like they did not deserve their acceptance or that it was given to them for free. After all, there is no handout in the actual classroom. Additionally, let it be clear that being African-American does not in any way equate to being unintelligent. However, with constant media bias, imprudent posters and people who have accepted this immoral ideology, negative stereotypes of minorities can quickly form.

The poster then ends with, “White and Asian students matter” in all capitals, blatantly disregarding the previously mentioned Latino group. What’s more is that the author of the poster mocked the Black Lives Matter movement by comparing the issues they address, such as police brutality or systematic oppression, to receiving a rejection letter. Equating brutal deaths to college admissions is disrespectful to everyone whose lives have been lost and to those fighting to prevent more deaths.

The argument this poster was making is unnecessary from the social justice perspective. The heart of the argument doesn’t have society’s best interests in mind. If the success of 57 African-American students in gaining acceptance to UCLA bothers anyone, then they need to ask themselves why.

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