There are a number of differences between New England Liberal Arts Colleges and UCs in terms of size, admission goals, the students they attract, etc. UC system test might look like, and it showed that the lessons of Bowdoin and Bates might have some relevance.
Last January – with great fanfare – The UC system announced that it had received a record number of applications from Latino and black students on their campuses, which led to a record number of under-represented minority freshmen in the incoming class of 2021- 2022. “These remarkable numbers are a testament to the hard work and resilience of students and their families across California,” Michael Drake, president of the UC System, wrote in a statement. “I am especially encouraged by the social and economic diversity of those offered a place at UC Fall will be an exciting time on our campuses.”
At first glance, these numbers seem impressive. According to preliminary results of California UC-released applicants, the number of black freshmen admitted system-wide rose from 3,987 in 2020 to 4,608 in 2021. But these record numbers need to be seen in the right context: applications, in general, hit record highs in 2021. The percentages of black and Latino applicants have remained almost exactly the same. In 2019, black students made up 5% of students admitted to UC. In 2020, they represented 5%. In 2021, they again represented 5%. With Latino students, the increase was marginal – 34% in 2019, 36% in 2020 and 37% in 2021. While dropping out of SAT and ACT has had an effect on income inequality, this does not matter. is not manifested this year. The percentage of California freshman applicants with low family income has increased from 43.5% in 2020 to 41.5% in 2021.
The UC admitted a record number of students for this year, but they also rejected more students than ever before. At UCLA, the admission rate fell from 14.4% to 10.8%, which should be seen as a problem for a public university in the second largest city in the country but, of course, this n is not the case. Instead of thinking about what amounts to diminishing opportunities for all students in the state to attend UCLA, the school declared victory. “I’m in heaven,” a UCLA official told the Los Angeles Times, referring to the increase in the number of minority students. “The years of hard work… have paid off for us, and it’s a good feeling.
But black enrollment at UCLA has fallen from 6% in 2020 to just 7% in 2021. Latino enrollment has fallen from 23% to 26%. The enrollment rate for Asian Americans, for what it’s worth, fell from 42% to 39%. In Berkeley, the number of black listings declined slightly, while white listings increased. Meanwhile, at UC Merced, one of the less selective UCs, Latino’s enrollment numbers fell from 54 percent of the entering freshman class to 50 percent; The same is true for the total percentage of underrepresented minority students entering the first year class.
It should come as no surprise that in choosing to run this news, UC chose to talk about what happened at UCLA and not UC Merced which is, by far, the most diverse campus in the system. Why? According to The Upshot, the median annual family income for a student at Merced is $ 59,100. At UCLA? $ 104,900. Berkeley? $ 119,900. That’s all the game: Elite schools with wealthy students and alumni tout a miniscule increase in diversity, while schools with more working-class students like Merced, where more than 57% of students come from under-represented minority groups, don’t matter.
In elite schools, diversity is for rich children. In his view in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, The landmark Supreme Court case regarding affirmative action in college admissions, Justice Lewis Powell wrote about something called the Harvard Plan, which came to define the benefits of diversity. “A farm boy from Idaho can bring something to Harvard College that a Bostonian cannot. Likewise, a black student can usually contribute something that a white cannot. Powell’s logic is why Merced’s drop in diversity rate is not discussed and why we never hear about the underrepresented minority populations in large public schools that admit most of their candidates. First and most important, these schools do not have diversity issues. Second, if you take Powell’s logic to its natural conclusion, the “Idaho farmer” or “black student” is on campus to broaden the perspective of the Boston Brahmin and, perhaps, teach him a few lessons on tolerance. It might be cynical read, but it’s driven by an even more cynical way of thinking that cuts young people down to data points and becomes philosophical about what their background might add to a campus.