The number of black/African American first-year students admitted and enrolling at UCLA in Fall 2006. That's 96 out of almost 4,500 students in the incoming first-year class at the UC system's flagship campus in Southern California (most scholars agree UC Berkeley is the flagship campus for the entire UC system). See story here.
Some staff from the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA talked about the admissions issues on KJLH this weekend. More on the Bunche Center website here.
Many say that Prop 209, which abolished the consideration of ethnicity and gender in state application processes in California, is to blame. Others say it's a chicken and egg process-- that when prospects don't see people who look like them attending and succeeding at a campus, they're not likely to want to attend. Even if your high school plan isn't to hang with people like you, you at least want to know people like you are there and making it.
Either way, while we know talented high school students of color end up at various institutions of higher education eventually, it is the absence of color at the most prestigious and elite institutions that has dire effects. Because if those who attend and graduate from the most elite institutions statistically have access to the most elite post-grad opportunities, then do those who attend not-so-elite institutions only have access to not-so-elite post-grad opportunities? And does that perpetuate the class glass ceiling?
This is not to say the elite institutions of higher ed are the end-all-be-all... People succeed at all levels of education. And colleges have always had issues recruiting and retaining black students and students of color. But just thinking...
On another note, one of my students told me the other day it was because of shows like A Different World and Cosby Show that he knew he was capable of attending college one day. I guess pop culture, whether it's television, books, or film, can influence the way people think about themselves and their possibilities.
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