Americans for a Fair Chance Hails Tomas Rivera Study on Minority Admissions: Study Finds California ???Race-Neutral??? Approaches Ineffective

Media 03.8.03

WASHINGTON D.C.—Americans for a Fair Chance, a non-partisan consortium of six of America’s leading civil rights legal organizations dedicated to the preservation of affirmative action welcomes the release of the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute study on Latino and African-American admissions. The study found that “race neutral” plans used in California after the end of affirmative action adversely affect underrepresented minorities and are not a viable method of achieving a diverse campus.

“The Tomas Rivera study, like others before it, confirms what civil rights organizations and researchers have been saying for years: percentage plans are ineffective, and are not credible alternatives to established affirmative action programs in higher education,” said Shirley J. Wilcher, Executive Director of Americans for a Fair Chance. “These plans turn back the clock on thirty years of progress towards diversity in our selective colleges and universities.”

The study, “The Reality of Race-Neutral Admissions at the University of California: Turning the Tide or Turning Them Away” examines the acceptance and enrollment rates of underrepresented minorities, Latinos and African-Americans, within the University of California system since the implementation of Resolution SP-1 and the subsequent passing of Proposition 209. Proposition 209 barred all consideration of race in admissions, hiring, and contracting within state entities. These measures effectively struck down affirmative action in the state of California. Using data obtained from University of California Office of the President (UCOP), the study assesses African-American and Latino application, admittance and acceptance rates at the university’s eight campuses from 1997-2002.

The study characterizes Latino acceptance rates within the UC system since 1997 as “declining and stagnant” and African-American rates as “declining” despite the increase in the number of Latino and African-American applicants. The study reports that since the implementation of SP-1, over 22,000 Latino students and more than 7000 African-American students have been rejected from UC schools that might have otherwise been accepted.

Percentage plans gained considerable attention following President Bush’s endorsement of them in the White House amicus curiae brief filed against the University of Michigan in the upcoming Supreme Court case over affirmative action.

“With evidence mounting on the negative effects of percentage plans, it is increasingly clear that the Administration’s support of these so-called “race-neutral” approaches is clearly mistaken. In reality, these plans hinder efforts to desegregate college campuses with talented minority students and benefit only those who have historically had the advantage in admissions,” commented Wilcher.

Recently released studies by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, the Harvard Civil Rights Project and Princeton University reached similar conclusions regarding the detrimental effects of percentage plans on the admission of underrepresented minorities.

Americans for a Fair Chance is a consortium of six of America’s leading civil rights organizations. They include the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium, NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., National Partnership for Women and Families, and the National Women’s Law Center.