Decreased Percentage of Minorities Will Enroll

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Although underrepresented minority students were admitted at greater numbers for this fall than for last year, 5 percent fewer will enroll -- the largest percentage drop of any UC campus.

In sheer numbers, however, more minority students are expected to enroll at UC Berkeley than since 1997, the last year affirmative action was used in UC admissions, according to statistics released this week.

Overall, 36.9 percent of Native American, black and Latino students admitted to UC Berkeley filed Statements of Intent to Register for this fall, down 5.1 percent from last year. System-wide, 56.8 percent of admitted underrepresented minorities chose to enroll.

Campus admissions officials announced earlier this year that more minority students had been admitted to UC Berkeley than in previous years in which preferences were not used. While 192 more underrepresented minorities were admitted for Fall 2000 than for Fall 1999, only admitted Asian students were statistically likely to enroll for fall -- slightly more than 50 percent of those admitted filed statements.

Just 35.5 percent of admitted Latino students said they intended to register at UC Berkeley, making it the racial group in which the smallest percentage of admitted students are expected to enroll.

In the UC system, however, Latino admitted students were more likely to enroll than whites, who will make up 36.8 percent of this fall's system-wide freshman class.

UC Berkeley's status as one of only two UC campuses obviously struggling with Latino yield rates is cause for concern, said Pamela Burnett, UC Berkeley's admissions director.

"We're concerned about yields for Chicano and Latino students," she said yesterday. "It surprised us."

Burnett said the admissions office believes that a large population of admitted Latino students from Southern California may have opted to stay closer home for non-academic reasons, including a desire to be near family.

UCLA had the highest yield rate -- 44.7 percent -- for Latino students of any UC campus. It also had the highest overall underrepresented minority yield rate in the UC system, followed by UC Berkeley and UC Davis.

UC Riverside will have the largest percentage -- 27.8 percent -- of underrepresented minorities in its entering freshman class this fall.

Admitted black student enrollment will increase at UC Berkeley in the fall, climbing from 111 students last year to 135 this fall. Although black students will still only make up 3.7 percent of the freshman class, far below affirmative action levels, Burnett said the admissions staff was pleased with the jump in enrollment.

The university's admissions statistics have fallen under increased scrutiny in recent years after the passage of Proposition 209, the 1996 ballot initiative that banned race and gender preferences.

After Proposition 209, many UC and state officials have turned to a two-pronged tactic to keep underrepresented minorities enrolling at UC campuses -- improving K-12 education and expanding university outreach.

This policy has created a battle between affirmative action proponents, who argue that the current system shortchanges college applicants who did not have enough time to reap the rewards of improvement, and Proposition 209 supporters, who say preferences often promote less qualified people.

UC Regent Ward Connerly said ups and down in minority enrollment are less important than whether the UC system adheres to Proposition 209.

"I don't think that it's terribly relevant, from one year to the next, what these numbers portend," he said. "As long as we're not cheating in terms of complying with the law, I don't lose much sleep on whether the numbers are 5 percent of these or 10 percent of those."


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