Continued Lack of Diversity in UC System Raises Concerns

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Diversity In UC System

Javier Panzar speaks with Rachel Banning-Lover about diversity across the Univeristy of Califonia system.

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Despite continued efforts to increase and promote student diversity at the University of California, a report presented to the UC Board of Regents last week shows that students from certain racial backgrounds are still underrepresented across all UC campuses.

The report, commissioned by the board, details the race and gender composition of UC students, faculty and staff. Several regents expressed concern about how the data reflected the lack of racial diversity in the UC system.

The report stated that Latinos make up only 14 percent of the UC undergraduate student body, although they represent 34 percent of the state's population.

David Plank, executive director of Policy Analysis for California Education, said the "urgent issue is to increase the number of Latino students who are eligible and who can apply" to the UC.

Currently, the UC takes the top 12.5 percent of all California high school graduates, but by design, Plank said this allows for discrimination against schools that may not have been able to provide adequate teachers or course provisions due to resource constraints. He said these schools typically have more diverse student bodies.

Plank added that university officials need to "make the UC look more like California." He said his organization - formed through a collaboration between the UC and Stanford University - stated that the university should consider the top 10 percent of students from each high school instead of the top 4 percent.

The funding required to increase diversity in the UC's student body is also an issue, according to a report from UCLA's Institute for Democracy, Education and Access (IDEA). This study shows that California's weak educational and fiscal structure will continue to reinforce inequality in the future.

John Rogers, director of the institute and an associate professor of education at UCLA, said the lack of diversity among students in the UC can be traced back to the primary level, where minorities graduate at lower rates than whites. Schools that serve minority students tend to be located in areas with less tax revenue and are underfunded compared with other schools.

"The fact that those schools are so underfunded and unequal contributes to these broader problems of inequality," he said.

The report also stated that traditionally, each level of the higher education system was less diverse as it became more advanced, citing a disparity in the amount of underrepresented minority or female individuals between undergraduate students and faculty.

At the meeting, UC Regent Eddie Island expressed concern about the ladder-rank faculty composition and the senior management composition - both of which were largely composed of whites - stating it "looks about the way one would have expected it in 1975, and a lot has happened since then."

The lack of diversity in higher education is also reflected nationally, with 71.8 percent of undergraduates and 76.8 percent of faculty classified as white, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. White scholars also make up 82.9 percent of tenured professors nationwide.

Plank emphasized the need for the university to work with schools to align their expectations and demands. The A-G Curriculum, which is a pre-requisite of entry to UC, is currently being considered as the potential default curriculum for California schools.

Javier Panzar of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


Contact Rachel Banning-Lover at [email protected]

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