WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday in an affirmative action ban modeled after California’s 17-year-old law.
The case before the court concerns a Michigan law similar to California’s Proposition 209, a 1998 law that said race cannot be a factor in college admissions at California universities.
The implementation of Prop 209 caused the admission rate of underrepresented minorities at UCLA to drop by nearly half between 1996 and 1998. Today, less than four percent of UCLA’s student body is African American.
Dozens of students took part in a rally on UCLA’s campus Tuesday calling for greater diversity on campus.
“I’m seeing whites or East Asians or international students everywhere but I’m not seeing people that look like me,” said UCLA student Kamilah Moore.
“I think we’re still hamstrung by this law,” said Dr. Darnell Hunt, a sociology professor and former chair of the UCLA Admissions Committee.
In the last few years, admissions at UCLA and UC Berkeley – the top campuses in the state university system – have made only modest gains, according to Dr. Hunt.
“In 2006 there was an LA Times article that said less than a hundred freshmen in a freshmen class of 5,000 students were going to be African American,” he said.
Others like Mercedes Pratt, an applicant to UCLA’s graduate school, argue admissions should be based solely on an applicant’s merits.
“I wouldn’t want that person with the lower requirement to have more points over someone that might be better qualified for the program,” said Pratt.
For students like Chloe Lustig, UCLA still offers the opportunity to meet other students from diverse backgrounds.
“Where I’m from in Orange County there isn’t much diversity,” said Lustig, a freshman. “That’s why I think for me personally, I love it here at UCLA because there’s so many different backgrounds and it’s fun to meet everybody.”