WESTWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A YouTube video by a group of university students is gaining national attention for revealing some stark statistics about the state of diversity at UCLA.
The video features UCLA student Sy Stokes and 11 other African American students holding hand-written statistics and using spoken word poetry to highlight that despite its reputation as a prestigious and diverse school, UCLA has more NCAA championships than black male freshmen.
In the video, the self-named “Black Bruins” point out that black males make up 3.3 percent of the male student population, 65 percent of them athletes. Of the 2,418 entering male freshmen in 2013, only 48 are African American.
“The numbers were so low that nobody really wanted to listen to us. We couldn’t really have power in numbers yet,” Stokes said. “So we had to do something.”
Stokes, a cousin of tennis legend and UCLA alumnus Arthur Ashe, is black, Cherokee and Chinese. He said he almost left UCLA because of the lack of diversity on campus.
“I felt extremely isolated,” he said, adding that he only had two or three friends.
“The numbers are very staggering,” said UCLA student Steven Azubuike. “So the numbers that we show in the video, we see almost every day.”
UCLA released a statement in response to the video that read in part:
“We share their dissatisfaction and frustration. Although we have made some progress — African American enrollment in the fall 2013 freshman class is at its highest since 1995 — it remains both modest and slow.”
California voted to outlaw affirmative action in 1996 when it passed Proposition 209, banning state schools from considering race in the admissions process. UCLA contends it is following state law, but the Black Bruins are calling on the school to do more.
“You can’t just put somebody, like I said, in a pamphlet, and say we’re a diverse campus. It doesn’t work that way,” Stokes said.
In a June opinion piece on the Huffington Post, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block argued in favor of exploring affirmative action and said that college admissions in the wake of Proposition 209 has shown that “it is nearly impossible to achieve true diversity on our campuses without taking some account of race and ethnicity in admissions.”
The Black Bruins are calling on the chancellor to work with them on such efforts.