EDUCATION

Should race be a factor in college admissions?

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The year after California's ban took effect, the number of black, Latino and Native American students plummeted by roughly half at Berkeley and UCLA, the UC system's most sought-after campuses.

Voters in Arizona, Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Washington and Nebraska have since approved similar bans with similar results.

At the University of Washington, the number of underrepresented minorities dropped by a third after voters banned affirmative action in 1998.

Despite consistent opposition, California's ban has remained enshrined in law.

Earlier this month, U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Proposition 209 for the second time.

The three-judge panel rejected a legal challenge in which Gov. Jerry Brown joined minority students in arguing the law is unconstitutional.

Affirmative-action advocates say Proposition 209 has created a "new Jim Crow regime" in California, where elite public colleges are dominated by white and Asian students while black and Hispanic students are relegated to less prestigious campuses.

"It is extraordinary that the vast majority of high school graduates in this state are minorities, and they're denied the opportunities to go to their state universities," said attorney Shanta Driver for the group By Any Means Necessary, which filed suit to overturn the ban.

UC officials have tried to increase campus diversity by admitting the top 9 percent of graduates from each high school, conducting a "holistic review" of applications that decreases the weight of standardized test scores and eliminating the requirement to take SAT subject exams.

Administrators note the number of Hispanic students at UC's nine undergraduates has been steadily increasing.

The California residents admitted to the UC system for this fall are 36 percent Asian American, 28 percent white, 27 percent Hispanic and 4 percent African American, according to the latest figures.

"We're very interested in a diverse student body that reflects the state of California and the nation," said UC provost Larry Pitts. "We have reasonable diversity, but not as much as we would like."

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