If you’ve been following my blog over the past week, you’ve seen my writing on SCA5, Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 being advanced in California to attempt to repeal Proposition 209, which passed in the mid 90’s and took effect in 1998 on the UC admissions process.
There continues to be a lot of numbers flying around, and a lot of is being interpreted really bizarrely. The most significant problem with the numbers being quoted back and forth is that most are citing on-campus student demographics as either whole numbers or as fractions of state population. These numbers either completely ignore changes in overall population size (and thus applicant pool size), or are using Census data as proxies for that number.
Yet, the most appropriate numbers to use isn’t enrollment data, or state-wide population numbers: it is admission and application data from the UC school system. Enrollment data is complicated by the additional factor of student choice — which can be influenced by things like scholarship availablity, geographic locale, and major offerings — so it’s largely irrelevant to the debate of affirmative action in college admissions. State-wide population numbers fail to fully address the fact that in regards to college admissions, changes in population size are only relevant insofar as they produce an increase in applicant number.
So, again, to set the record straight, here is the impact of Proposition 209 on UC admissions and campus diversity. All numbers were crunched from this report, which was released by the UC office of the president (UCOP).
Nearly twenty years ago, California voters passed Proposition 209, a ballot measure that effectively outlawed affirmative action in state-run institutions. Among other effects of Prop 209 was the loss of affirmative action policies — the ability for college admissions officers from being able to consider race among other application criteria — in the state-wide UC college system.
Prop 209 has had a devastating effect on UC schools: Black, Latino, Native American, Southeast Asian American and Pacific Islander admission rates have dropped precipitously relative to the pace of their population growth over the last twenty years, resulting in a public, taxpayer-funded university system that has effectively excluded many of the state’s underrepresented minority community — roughly 45% of the state’s total population — from access to quality secondary education.
Currently, the California House and Senate are considering Senate Constitutional Amendment 5 (SCA5), a bill that would create an exemption for public education from Prop 209, re-empowering the UC system to once again employ reasonable affirmative action policies in their admissions process. Should SCA5 pass the California Senate later this year, it will be put on the November ballot for public consideration. Passage of SCA5 is a necessary first step to restore access and equality for California’s underrepresented minorities to a college education.
Unfortunately, although 61% of Asian American voters in California voted against Proposition 209 in 1996 to protect affirmative action, recent efforts by conservative Asian Americans — predominantly Chinese American non-profits and news outlets — have resulted in a widespread campaign of misinformation and outright fear over SCA5 in many Asian American voters.
To set the record straight, here are the top 5 myths — and facts — about SCA5, and why you should support it.