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twinkl
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twinkl
posts: 125

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Summary: changes include excluding the SAT subject tests (SAT II) from admissions requirements; studies predict significant decrease in Asian admissions and increase in White admissions with marginal increases in Latino/African American admissions; “Asian” is a loosely defined category

New UC admissions policy gives white students a better chance, angers Asian-American community

By Lisa M. Krieger
Mercury News
Posted: 03/27/2009 07:55:18 PM PDT

A new University of California admissions policy, adopted to increase campus diversity, could actually increase the number of white students on campuses while driving down the Asian population.

Now angry Asian-American community leaders and educators are attacking the policy as ill-conceived, poorly publicized and discriminatory.

“It’s affirmative action for whites,” said UC-Berkeley professor Ling-chi Wang. "I’m really outraged “… and profoundly disappointed with the institution.”

At an Asian Pacific Americans in Higher Education conference Friday in San Francisco, Asian activists also noted the policy will result in negligible increases in African-American students and only a modest climb in the number of Latinos. But it’s the drop in the already significant Asian count that has many in that community so upset.

Although Asians account for only 12 percent of the state’s population, they now represent 37 percent of UC admissions — the single largest ethnic group. At UC-Berkeley, 46 percent of the freshman class is Asian. There are dormitories with Asian themes and spicy bowls of pho are served up in the Bear’s Lair cafeteria.

Under the new policy, according to UC’s own estimate, the proportion of Asian admissions would drop as much as 7 percent, while admissions of whites could rise by up to 10 percent.

“The UCs are a means of upward mobility,” said Anthony Lin, a San Jose resident who is a graduate student at University of California-Los Angeles. “The University of California, because it is a research institution, is very prestigious.”

More diversity

Since its adoption by the UC Regents in February, the policy has triggered Asian suspicions of the UC entry system not felt since the mid-1980s, when a change in admissions policy caused a decline in Asian undergraduate enrollment. In 1989, then-UC-Berkeley Chancellor Ira Michael Heyman apologized for the policy.

“I fear a general sense that there are too many Asians in the UC system,” said Patrick Hayashi, former UC associate president.

In this newest overhaul of eligibility requirements, UC has eliminated SAT subject tests — which Asians tend to do well on.

Those critical of the proposed plan vow to get it reversed by appealing to those who hold UC’s purse strings: state legislators. On Tuesday, two panels of the California Legislature will jointly hold a hearing to review the policy.

Meanwhile, supporters of the change, which results from a faculty study and is backed by president Mark G. Yudof, see it as a way to ease the widening achievement gap on their campuses. The impact of the new policy, according to

UC’s preliminary analysis, would be to simplify the application process and cast a wider net among promising low-income students.

It’s a consequential shift for the UC system, reflecting its effort to make UC more accessible. The new policy applies to students entering college in fall 2012; they are now high school freshmen.

More than a decade after California passed Proposition 209, voting to eliminate racial preferences, university administrators have struggled to create a better balance on campus. The use of a strict meritocracy has been blamed on the rise of “the Asian campus.” Some say it has come at the expense of historically underrepresented blacks and Hispanics — as well as whites.

“The president would not have supported the policy had he not felt it was fair and created opportunity,” said Nina Robinson, UC’s director of policy and external affairs for student affairs.

Many students — especially low-income and/or minority students — become ineligible to apply because they do not take the subject matter tests, she said.

Flawed report

But an analysis of the change predicts that the number of Asians admitted to UC could decrease because Asians tend to excel on the “subject tests,” which are no longer part of the application.

The number of admitted whites could increase, because more weight will be given to the “reasoning SAT,” which favors American natives.

African-Americans and Latinos could benefit slightly from the expanded class-ranking criteria because top students from troubled schools such as San Jose’s Lick High School could be UC-eligible.

Critics say they are frustrated because UC has not made public the statistical analysis on which their decision was based.

But the report that created the data for that analysis, called the 2007 CPEC Eligibility Study, is deeply flawed, according to New York University education professor Robert Teranishi.

“It shows a wide margin of error for Asians. It is not a good predictive model, perhaps because the Asian population is very diverse. ‘Asian’ represents a lot of different demographic backgrounds,” he said. “It should not be used to guide major policy decisions.” Wang, who compared it to “peddling snake oil,” complained that Asians had not been invited to participate in the process.

“The changes over the last two years took place inside the ivory tower and closed the door, without the public’s knowledge,” he said.

Added Hayashi: "A public university should be more responsive. Private schools can do anything they want. But public schools have a different set of objectives. “It will have a devastating impact on our community. It is a fatal mistake to think it will blow over.”

The university has the power to set admissions criteria, said Steve Boilard of the California Legislative Analyst’s Office. But the Legislature approves its $3 billion in funding every year.

“This is a dynamic where we need to work together to ensure its mission,” he said.

posted over 5 years ago
thefieldsofelysium
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thefieldsofe...
posts: 170

I tend to be wary of Asians and Asian-Americans whenever they’re all up in arms about something. At my university, there was a huge stink raised about how Asians and Asian-Americans don’t receive enough mental health support, which they claimed is the reason why most on-campus suicides are Asians. (Statistics, anyone? Correlation does not imply causation!) It’s ridiculous, given that our school already has counseling and psychological services – CAPS – tailored for both domestic and international students. And if there’s supposed to be a CAPS division just for Asians and Asian-Americans, then there follows that divisions must be created for Africans and African-Americans, Latinos and Latino-Americans, Native Americans, etc. Completely inefficient. Anyway, this somehow led to a petition for an Asian community center, which I thought would just be a terrible waste of money, since it wouldn’t lead to “an increase in diversity education.” Only more segregation. Can you tell I highly dislike race-based groups and activities?

But affirmative action is always a tricky issue, so I’m not sure what ‘solution’ is best for this ‘problem.’ (There are few things in the world I hate more than university bureaucracy.) I believe there was a Wall Street Journal article some time ago that talked about how the Asian population was rising so fast in the Cupertino, CA area (where some of my relatives live) that white people started moving out, so that their kids didn’t have to stress out so much over academic competition.

Yes, it’s a stereotype that Asians are ‘naturally’ smart and high-achieving. But there’s a reason for that, too. A significant percentage of university-aged Asian-Americans come from families that immigrated here to get a Master’s/Ph.D at an American university and/or take advantage of better job opportunities, and do anything possible to send their kids to the best schools — work longer hours, move to the top school districts, pay for Princeton Review courses, etc. And it’s true that in most Asian households, kids are raised with the idea/value that education is strictly top priority, no matter what, and that academic achievement is the best kind of achievement. (Many Asian parents don’t really believe in the ‘well-roundedness’ that American schools tend to emphasize, much less spend time or money on ‘wasteful’ activities like sports.) That’s a major reason why you see Asians competing fiercely in the academic field — that there are so many Asians in top universities all across the U.S. is no surprise. Is it fair? I don’t know. I believe it is simply an outcome of a common value instilled within a racial community. Does it intimidate and discourage other races that are not so well-represented? Yes, probably.

I know that my parents think that underrepresented races simply “don’t work hard enough.” (They love to generalize and over-simplify, which causes me a lot of headaches.) But there are so many other aspects to factor in: income, environment, quality of public schools, education background of parents/family members, etc. Especially with kids who come from a single-parent, low-income household — they don’t have the luxury of having a parent at home who has the time to discipline them, go over homework with them, teach them to treat education as gold. It’s even worse if the public schools they go to have under-qualified teachers, and if the parent is not well-educated him/herself. Then, those children have even bigger obstacles to obtaining admission to high-ranking, expensive universities.

As for excluding the SAT subject tests (which I’ve taken and fretted needlessly over), I’m all for it, regardless of the impact it may or may not make on the admissions rate of Asians. I understand the need for some sort of standardized base by which to compare potential university candidates. But excessive testing is ridiculous — it reduces the intelligence and capabilities of young minds to mere numbers. It’s been said and I have to reiterate it: standardized tests don’t test how intelligent you are. They test how well you can take a test. That’s it. I know some people of average intelligence who do very well on standardized tests. And some of incredible intelligence who only do okay. So, what does that say, really? (But then we go into the big question of how one can measure intelligence, which is an issue too complex for me to deal with right now.)

So, I’m just going to sit back (perhaps with an expression of slight disapproval on my face) and see how this plays out.

posted over 5 years ago
 
twinkl
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twinkl
posts: 125

I think all minorities should be “up in arms” about any issue—it’s how they’re going to get representation in the US. But the details of that issue are a whole other topic.

The importance of the SAT II tests, in one view anyways, is that it balances out the advantage that students with a more Americanized background have on the SAT I reasoning. I completely agree that BOTH the SAT I and SAT II are all about learning how to take a test… and Asians definitely have the gist of that with sending off their kids to prep classes… but by outright taking away the SAT II requirement the policymakers are placing ADDED value on the SAT I and all that it connotes.

The issue I have with the whole thing is that it’s a direct response to the increasing number of Asian students getting accepted. When the UC requirements were first determined, did they think it through? What made the people in charge want to make it a numbers game anyways? Because when I was applying to school in 2003, that was the attitude about UCs in my school—it’s all a numbers game. So what, they realize it was a MISTAKE now?? What exactly is the philosophy behind this change? The justification is simply: more diversity—that means less Asians—so we must change the guidelines.

That’s weak. It was a mistake from the beginning to place such emphasis on numbers if diversity was the main concern. Asian culture is historically based on test-taking.

Why not make it a little less obvious and change the requirements in a more MEANINGFUL way if the current numbers-driven system isn’t working? Like adding letters of recommendation to the mix? Or interviews? Because of the volume of applicants—aka: there’s no money. How convenient.

posted over 5 years ago
 
thefieldsofelysium
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thefieldsofe...
posts: 170

I apologize if I sounded too cynical in my previous response. Certainly, minorities should take action against discrimination and marginalization. But usually the kind of action I see taken on campus, at least by my own ‘race group’ (the Asians/Asian-Americans), is only over the most insignificant and menial of concerns (if they can even be called concerns). Of course, some who do take action have incredibly good, well-thought-out intentions. But they’re either aiming for an ideal too lofty for a college campus environment (let’s be realistic) or are unable to execute their ideas effectively. Most Asians/AA’s I know – even among my closest friends – are sheep when it comes to race. They sign petitions that concern our race without even reading them, or contemplating why the petitions exist, what they are aiming to achieve, and how. It frustrates me to no end. I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘support my own race solely because I am of that race’ loyalty idea. I think it’s bullshit. (I’m aware that I’m being rather subjective, since I’m basing my opinions on personal experience. But the world isn’t really convincing me otherwise, either.)

So, back to the SAT II subject tests. I’m re-reading the article and now I’m not sure the creation of the policy is a direct response to the increasing number of accepted Asians students. (I’m getting a ‘correlation equals causation!’ vibe from it….) Yes, the journalist reports statistics that the new policy could induce a decrease in the number of Asian students, but also reports that critics of the policy want greater transparency regarding the derivation of said statistics and policy development. (And I definitely agree that more information should be given by the university administration.) According to Yudof, the policy was created in order to “simplify the application process and cast a wider net among promising low-income students.” I don’t think his intentions are wrong here. It’s a fact that even with financial aid, many underprivileged students simply don’t have the means to take a slew of standardized tests (ACT, SAT I, SAT II, AP, IB). While I don’t think his primary directive is to drive down the Asian population, the policy does perhaps appear to be that way. An indirect effect on the Asian admissions rate? More than likely. Again, I think we all need more information on this policy: exactly why it was created, what are its goals, how it would be implemented, the indirect effects that could result from it, and how the administration plans to counter/deal with those effects (should the policy actually be carried through).

The existence or lack of affirmative action in a university’s admissions process is always going to create problems. You’re going to have pros and cons for each method, so I’m not terribly surprised that schools would shift their guidelines every so often in order to find what works and what doesn’t. However, the public should be given a clear reason (backed by evidence) why such changes should be made. I’m not sure how university bureaucracies actually handle this sort of overhaul in their admissions processes (although it’s a given that most of them are just poorly operated in general), but I feel that they should – if they don’t, already – bring in experts from the outside as consultants who don’t necessarily have a stake in those schools. This might make changes in requirements more meaningful, as you put it.

posted over 5 years ago
 
strawb3rricc
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strawb3rricc
posts: 6

I love how Asian Americans are being punished for having GOOD grades >.>

posted over 5 years ago
 
strawb3rricc
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strawb3rricc
posts: 6

Is it the fault of Asian Americans for achieving good grades? It’s not like they do anything special to gain academic excellance. They just study and work hard. Everyone has the choice; it’s whether you choose to invest the time in studying.

posted over 5 years ago
 
elora
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elora
posts: 34

First off, I actually attend a UC school. I don’t think Asian American students are being punished for getting good grades, mostly because this has nothing to do with grades. It probably wasn’t the UC schools intentions to decrease Asian American admissions. It might just be that many student cannot apply to UC schools if they can’t afford to take more tests. It’s unfair to say that “It’s affirmative action for whites" as the article states…I really don’t think this policy was put in place just to advantage white people.

posted over 5 years ago
 
thefieldsofelysium
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thefieldsofe...
posts: 170

@ strawb3rricc: I’m not sure how you’re interpreting the article (or the whole situation, for that matter), but there is no intended ‘punishment’ being done to anyone.

And – regarding the supposed way to academic excellence – no, not everyone ‘has the choice.’ For some, particularly the underprivileged, they have neither the conducive environment/upbringing nor the time (say, if they need to work part-time to help support the family). My background is upper middle-class and I try hard not to forget how fortunate I am with regards to parenting and finance. The education system, tied in with socioeconomics, is deeply complex and has many flaws that cannot be attributed to a single, flimsy excuse.

posted over 5 years ago
 
bauss
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bauss
posts: 79

I really can’t see why ethnic diversity is such a big deal. UC Berkley is a school, so it should focus on academics and not ethnicity.

This really angers me, it’s one of the schools I plan on applying to in two years.

posted about 5 years ago
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