Bruin Alumni Association
Racial Games: UCLA’s Biased Admissions Process

Chapter 1 - A Brave New World

Chapter 2 - A Pale Imitiation

Chapter 3 - Things Fall Apart

Chapter 4 - Are You a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?

Chapter 5 - Speaking Out

Racial Games: UCLA’s Biased Admissions Process

Chapter 3
Things Fall Apart

    After the passage of comprehensive review, Keith Stolzenbach, faculty chairman of the Academic Senate's admissions committee, admitted to the Bruin that SAT-I scores would now rank last on a reader's priorities.[i]  This reprioritization was in response to UC President Richard Atkinson’s successful campaign to win a greater admissions emphasis on the SAT-II subject tests.  These exams included, not coincidentally, the Spanish language SAT-II, aced in great numbers by desirable (and bilingual) minority Hispanic students.  The move away from the SAT-I also included greater emphasis on the personal statement, the forum in which applicants present tales of woe to explain a lack of academic achievement.

    In fact, UCLA gives credit in the life challenges component for problems ranging from immigration hardships, living in a high-crime neighborhood, being a victim of a shooting, or long-term psychological difficulties.  Other oft-cited examples include poverty, uneducated parents, or involuntary after-school commitments like caring for a sick parent or working a job to support family.  Not surprisingly, every one of UCLA’s targeted life challenges correlates strongest (though of course not exclusively) with minority applicants.

    Setting aside the motivation for choosing these particular life challenges, there is an unstated assumption which underlies them.  Namely, that applicants who have overcome great challenges and achieved – however modestly, as the numbers show – deserve a boost.  However, by Berkeley admissions director Carla Ferri’s own words, UC schools desire “students that can tackle the academic programs with enthusiasm, with strength, with purpose.”[ii]

    How do teenage schizophrenia, gunshot wounds, or a home in the ghetto serve as particular qualifications to meet the stated challenge?  Nobody can rightly have a dispute with slight preference for students who overcome great obstacles to achieve great things.  But that’s not UCLA’s system.  To get minority numbers up, the records show that the UCLA admissions office headed by director Vu Tran is admitting students who have overcome exaggerated obstacles to achieve minor things.  And to make an even more unpopular point, the very same traumas for which UCLA assigns bonus points also correlate to students most at a disadvantage for achieving in the university’s academic meat-grinder.

    In several press accounts, former UCLA admissions director Rae Lee Siporin admitted that the radical diversity lobby wears race-colored glasses.  After Proposition 209 depressed minority admissions at Berkeley and UCLA, Siporin and other self-appointed social engineers considered an admissions process incorporating pure socioeconomic preference as a boost to applicants from a background of poverty.  But the plan was rejected after their modeling yielded too many low income, high-achieving Asians and whites, while failing to properly plump up the number of minorities.

    The modeling for comprehensive review generated more pleasing results.  This system assigned particular importance to extracurricular activities, and allowed minority applicants to pervert the personal statement into a written river of tears, blaming their lack of qualifications on external limitations.  By indexing for academic failure instead of mere poverty, comprehensive review achieved the desired ethnic numbers.

    But other than the candor of Siporin (now retired), the Diversitistas have suffered from sudden amnesia and refuse to admit that the motive for comprehensive review was bringing up minority numbers.  Those struck by this selective erasure of memory included Chand Viswanathan, 2001 UCLA Academic Senate chairman, who defended less-qualified minorities by arguing that they “were very intelligent, but [their intelligence] was not reflected”[iii] in their scores.  Along with trotting out that tired argument, current UCLA admissions director Vu Tran argued that seemingly unqualified “students in the very low range (of SAT scores)” deserve admission because “they still demonstrated academic excellence in spite of environmental conditions.”  What Tran asserted is that while students are admitted with low SATs, they make up for it with superior GPAs.  His contention is not based on fact.

    As a review of the Fall 2002 UCLA admits and denials shows, average GPA for both admits and denials rises with every 100 point range on the chart – from 3.43 for the 7 admitted students with a 701-800 SAT, 106 students with SATs from 801-900, 412 students from 901-100, on up to 4.43 for the 958 admitted students with a 1501-1600 score.  At the same time, though, UCLA rejected 191 students with a 1500+ SAT score, and 1455 students in the 1401-1500 SAT range.[iv]  Which is all well and good until you look again and are reminded that students with stratospheric scores are being rejected in favor of vastly underqualified students scoring in the sub-1000 score range.  Clearly, the underperforming students admitted by Tran may very well have been demonstrating excellence, but not as much excellence as the thousands of denied students with both higher GPAs and higher SATs.
    For those still disbelieving, other UCLA statistics confirm the existence of differing standards of “excellence” depending on race.  For the Fall 2004 class of new freshmen, African-Americans scored an average 1091 SAT and 3.67 GPA, while Chicanos scored 1128 and 4.00.  By contrast, whites scored 1325 and 4.13, with Asians at 1328 and 4.17.[v]  The difference is stark enough to be irrefutable.  But Tran and Viswanathan continue to dissemble – a disappointing but typical inclination.  In the world of UCLA admissions, such deception is Job 1 – burying the reality of racial preferences under an avalanche of words.

    Go to Chapter 4 - Are You a 1, 2, 3, 4 or 5?

[ii] “Barriers Students Faced Count In University Admission Process,” by Daniel Golden, The Wall Street Journal, July 12, 2002