[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“The Brown decision promised that every child, regardless of the color of his or her skin, would have unequivocal access to quality education and an equal opportunity to pursue his/her dreams.”  

U.S. Congressman Ed Markey

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In recent years, the University of California has failed to provide that opportunity. It failed to fully consider the needs of its minority students and in far too many cases made substantial efforts to enroll nonresident students at their expense.

An audit of California’s UC System recently proved statistically what many already knew intrinsically—the University of California is admitting more international students than eligible California residents—under-qualified  international students.

According to the audit report, “The University [of California] admitted nearly 16,000 nonresidents from academic years 2012–13 through 2014–15 who were less academically qualified on every academic indicator we evaluated—grade point averages, SAT, and ACT scores—than the upper half of residents whom it admitted at the same campus,” it read.

In a recent letter to the Honorable Freddie Rodriguez, Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, a coalition of nonprofit and advocacy groups that included the California Black Chamber of Commerce, the California Black Media, California Urban Partnership and the National Action Network, crystallized the concerns of minorities in the state in relation to this issue. The correspondence stated in part, “…it is extremely disappointing and disturbing that the University of California continues to have significant under-enrollment of Latino and African American students.”[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”5004″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]The audit revealed California’s university system has prioritized non-resident enrollment; as a result, students within the state are at a severe disadvantage. Also among the findings, despite a 52 percent increase in resident applications over the last ten years, resident enrollment increased by only 10 percent while nonresident enrollment increased by a jaw-dropping 432 percent.

In its correspondence the coalition demanded California’s university system, “Stop railroading African American and Latino students to the least prestigious of UC campuses, and increase its numbers at both UCLA and UC Berkeley.”

The audit highlighted the reality that both UCLA and UC Berkeley, the two most prestigious universities in the state’s system, not only had the lowest acceptance rate for residents, but also simultaneously underrepresented minorities as well. In 2015, UCLA accepted a mere four percent of African American students, only 19.1 percent of Latinos, and less than one percent of American Indians.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”5005″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]Minorities have remained historically and sorely under-represented as it relates to University of California (UC) admissions. Some progress for minority students relative to parity in admissions was choked to death with the passage of Proposition 209 almost twenty years ago. Now, it is apparent that the state’s willingness to financially gouge less qualified foreign students has further disadvantaged the state’s minority student population. Under-represented minority students include African Americans, Chicanos/Latinos, and American Indians—collectively, they represent 45 percent of California’s population and yet account for only 30 percent of the universities overall undergraduate population.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”5001″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]Last year, the UC made a commitment to move toward correcting this disparity. It committed to enroll between 5,000 and 10,000 more California residents over the next three years. Most minority parents and students, however, might agree with the coalition who wrote, “…the number is not substantial enough to make up for the historical under-enrollment of Latinos and African Americans, particularly at the UC’s two most prestigious, and competitive, campuses, UCLA and UC Berkeley.”  Interestingly, in 2015 nearly 12,000 eligible applicants were turned down by UC campuses and instead, they were referred to UC Merced where there are disproportionately more African American and Latino students.

The audit report concluded that over the past several years the university system has undermined its commitment to resident students. Specifically the report stated, “In response to reduced state funding, the university made substantial efforts to enroll nonresident students who pay significantly more tuition than residents.”[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”5003″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes”][vc_column_text]As a result of these efforts, the UC’s saw an 82 percent increase in nonresident enrollment from academic years 2010–11 through 2014–15, or 18,000 students, this coincided with a drop in resident enrollment of 2,200 students, over that same time period.

According to State Auditor Elaine Howle, “The university’s decision to increase the enrollment of nonresidents has made it more difficult for California residents to gain admission to the university. “ She further stated, “Because of the significant harm to residents and their families resulting from the university’s actions, we believe that legislative intervention, as outlined in the report, is necessary to ensure that a university education once again becomes attainable and affordable for all California residents who are qualified and desire to attend.”[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”5002″ img_size=”695×801″ alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]The coalition urged the committee to push for meaningful UC engagement and accountability to help cure the disparate under-representation of students of color, in order to ensure that inclusion, fairness, and equity for ALL Californians becomes and remains a top UC priority. “We stand ready to participate in the next steps,” the coalition affirmed in its communication.

The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee’s report on the University of California was published March 20, 2016. The cover of the report stated in reference to the university system, “Its admissions and financial decisions have disadvantaged California Resident Students.” On April 5, Rodriguez announced his intent to hold an oversight hearing in response to the state’s audit.[/vc_column_text][vc_separator][vc_column_text el_class=”small”]Feature photo: University of California[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

S.E. Williams

Stephanie E. Williams is an award winning investigative reporter, editor and activist who has contributed to several Inland Empire publications. Williams spent more than thirty years as a middle-manager...