New UC Admissions Policy Is 'Affirmative Action for Whites'

April 25, 2009

UC enacted the policy a couple of months ago, but an Associated Press story published Friday put it back in the news.

"I like to call it affirmative action for whites," Ling-chi Wang, a retired Asian American Studies professor at the University of California, Berkeley, told the Associated Press. "I think it's
extremely unfair to Asian Americans on the one hand and
underrepresented minorities on the other."

That's a bold statement, and if the projections of fewer Asian American and more white students are true, this will surely become a contentious issue for years to come. Get a flavor of this in the comments on SFGate.

UC says it's trying to widen the pool of applicants, and perhaps, to get around slyly a state law that forbids the use of race as a factor in admissions. But, as the article says, it could also be an effort to cut down the number of Asian Americans. If you're the group getting cut out, naturally you're going to feel it's unfair. There are many who would downplay this because of the perception that Asian Americans, already so numerous at UC, don't need any affirmative action, stealth or not.

California voters passed Prop. 209 in 1996, a constitutional amendment that prohibits state institutions from considering race, ethnicity or gender in employment, education or contracting. Taking race out of the equation in higher education, especially for coveted undergraduate spots in the UC system, has increased the numbers of Asian Americans at the expense of other groups. Do we want that?

Do we want 40 percent of UC's undergrads to be Asian American? Do we want 40 percent to be white or black or Latino or any other group? I think not, but at least here in California, we seem to be creating policies that make it happen. Given that, would you vote for Prop. 209 or something like it?


Harry Mok

Editor in chief

Editor in Chief Harry Mok wrote about growing up on a Chinese vegetable farm for the second issue of Hyphen and has been a volunteer editor since 2004. As a board member of the San Francisco and New York chapters of the Asian American Journalists Association, Harry has recruited and organized events for student members. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, where he was also a graduate student instructor in the Asian American Studies Department.



Yeeeah! White Power!
Don't worry, guys. Ultimately, since we know what the new rules are, we'll just play the new game. Just as well as we have the old one.
this is somewhat tangential, but i wonder what percentage of California's college-aged population is Asian American. i bet you it's higher than 12 percent. i understand why an article would use a general population percentage for reference, but it's not totally accurate when we're looking a specific population -- undergraduate freshman applicants.also, either i am reading this incorrectly or wasn't aware of this:"Under the current policy, students have to rank in the top 12.5 percent of California high school graduates to be eligible."
Not just the college-aged population, but the college-READY population.Admittedly that just pushes the blame backwards, but I believe the underrepresentation needs to be addressed much earlier than discriminatory college admissions. (Because any policy that considers race for any purpose is, by definition, discriminatory.)
Must...resist...urge to explain..."discrimination"...within...existing...power schemes...must...not...explain why...looking up the word "discrimination" the dictionary...probably not...good...way to start off...discourse phenomena...
Looks like California just regressed back to what the rest of the country practices, which is impose higher bars on Asian American applicants for the same chance of admission as any other applicant group. Next time a White male complains about affirmative action, remind them that AA men face the most competitive barriers (even more than White males) and systemic discrimination than any other American.