Berkeley Under Fire For New Race-Based Program

Seal_of_University_of_California,_Berkeley.svgThere is another controversy brewing in California over allegations that the University of California at Berkeley is again trying to circumvent a state law that bars the use of race in educational decisions. Berkeley has announced a $20 million fund to endow scholarships for African-American students and to hire a diverse faculty. Critics say that it clearly runs afoul of the law and is another example the refusal of administrators to comply with a state policy for absolute racially blind decision-making in admissions and other educations decision making.

Berkeley’s “African-American Initiative” would raise funds from private non-profits to fund “a comprehensive effort to address the underrepresentation of African-American students, faculty and staff at our university, and improve the climate for those who are here now and all who will join our community in the future.” That would mean race-based scholarships for black students, the hiring of race-specific clinical psychologists as well as “diverse faculty and senior management.”

dirks-newChancellor Nicholas Dirks said that the university is intent upon increasing the representations of African-Americans: “For too long, African-Americans on our campus have faced obstacles to feeling fully included in the life of our university.” Of 38,000-student Cal-Berkeley, African-Americans make up 3 percent of undergraduates, 4 percent of graduate students and 2 percent of the faculty at the university.

The problem is Proposition 209 that was passed in 1996 to bar state institutions from considering race, sex, or ethnicity for public employment, contracting and education. The clear intent is to bar the use of these classifications in education.

The new program is clearly designed to circumvent the law but could present a tough legal issue. The university is arguing that the program will not make it easier for black students to be admitted but to encourage more to apply by guaranteeing tuition if they are admitted. Yet, this is not an entirely private scholarship fund (which can use race or gender based selection). The university will be administering the program. The law, once again, bars any discrimination or preferential treatment “in the operation . . . of public education.”

What do you think?

(a) The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

(b) This section shall apply only to action taken after the section’s effective date.

(c) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting bona fide qualifications based on sex which are reasonably necessary to the normal operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting.

(d) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as invalidating any court order or consent decree which is in force as of the effective date of this section.

(e) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as prohibiting action which must be taken to establish or maintain eligibility for any federal program, where ineligibility would result in a loss of federal funds to the state.

(f) For the purposes of this section, “state” shall include, but not necessarily be limited to, the state itself, any city, county, city and county, public university system, including the University of California, community college district, school district, special district, or any other political subdivision or governmental instrumentality of or within the state.

(g) The remedies available for violations of this section shall be the same, regardless of the injured party’s race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin, as are otherwise available for violations of then-existing California antidiscrimination law.

(h) This section shall be self-executing. If any part or parts of this section are found to be in conflict with federal law or the United States Constitution, the section shall be implemented to the maximum extent that federal law and the United States Constitution permit. Any provision held invalid shall be severable from the remaining portions of this section.

40 thoughts on “Berkeley Under Fire For New Race-Based Program”

  1. Justice Holmes hit the nail on the head here. The state law prohibits such special status to minorities, the Chancellor is pulling a Kim Davis here.

  2. Is the ethnic diversity at the University of California supposed to reflect the state of CA or the nation? The last I read, blacks are only about 7% of the CA population (less than 1/2 the national demographic), whereas the Asian and Hispanic population is significantly higher in CA than the rest of the country. I’m not sure why it is deemed necessary for “under-represented” minorities to attend exceptionally competitive universities like Berkeley, since their graduation rate is dismal. It would be better to match them to colleges such as Cal State Los Angeles, etc where they have a reasonable chance of succeeding. Institutions such as Berkeley and Stanford aren’t helping anyone when they admit unprepared students, only to see them wash out, or graduate with a major such as African American studies that isn’t going to impress anyone and won’t help them get jobs. And I don’t believe that Asians have any special entitlement to admission to elite universities. They are facing the same educational discrimination that whites have been facing for the past 50 years, yet most of the Asian students turned away from Cal come from significantly better socio- economic backgrounds than the white working class kids whose families have been paying taxes in California for generations.

  3. One of the good things about the people who always trash a thread is they are often obsessive types and stay on one thread, leaving others for normal discussion. The Penn prof thread is taking the hits from obsessive and so far leaving this thread for civil discourse.

  4. I look forward to the prospects of Asians suing against reverse discrimination. The “melting pot” is one day going to boil over with rage from people with talent and merit getting knocked down by those with less of it.

    In this country there is a conspiracy of the richest and the poorest against the middle. Hard working students of unfavored racial groups like the whites and Asians should not have to constantly face this kind of invidious discrimination because of a centuries-over “legacy of slavery” or the pandering to tens of millions of Mexicans who’ve invaded the country the past few decades.

  5. One way to fix the system is to pass a law requiring the application for admittance for students to be color blind and ethnic blind. The way to do that is to not allow the race or ethnicity to appear on the application form. The decision maker shall not ask the race or ethnicity and not see personally the applicant.
    If a university had a prior history of race discrimination for example and there had been a lawsuit, then there might have been a court ordered remedy. The purpose is to make correction and payback.

    Another issue is sports. The state run universities should not give preference to basketball players of any race or ethnicity. They should have to take classes. End sports in all state run American universities and colleges. Compete with China in math and science not basketball.

  6. ninian has studiously avoided the post from yesterday about UK academia. He’s always too busy lecturing us Americans on what is wrong w/ us. Cura te ipsum!

  7. Contempt for the law eventually eventually becomes contempt for the government.

    When the laws are seen as illegitimate, and only enforced for political purposes, the entire government is illegitimate.

  8. Don hold your breath! No way white Afrikaaners will get any mercy from a leftist institution. It’s reverse apartheid for them now that they gave up power! Vae victis!!!!

  9. The University must Follow the law in the same way I expect out entities to follow the law in areas in which they might disagree with e law. Any official who feels he or she cannot do so can resign. That was my view on Kim Davis and it is my view on this issue.

  10. It’s nice these guys are making special programs for folks who’ve immigrated directly from the continent of Africa. By definition this policy must include South Africans, many of whom are white and Egyptians, many of whom are Arabic in origin. Kalifornia rules!

  11. The “initiative” clearly violates the California law but, once again, we see officials making outright challenges of policy because they think they can get away with it. And they might! The only real remedy is if the Legislature punishes Berkeley by cutting its budget. Will they? Dirks knows that a court challenge won’t work because standing cannot be established. It’s a political chicken game, and that’s all it is.

  12. I do not think this approach fits in the constitution of CA. Even this wiggling around with a special fund, the student would have to be accepted at Cal. And the tuition fund should be open to everyone. Fork ’em Devils!

  13. As we just learned with the Kim Davis saga government officials should follow the law or resign, and if they refuse either they should be jailed. It’ll be amusing watching all those outraged over Kim Davis change their principles for this case.

  14. Another quagmire.

    You may be interested to know that in Australia private universities are being set up to cater for white Australian kids who are not making the grade to enter mainframe universities. Many places are taken up by Australians of Asian origin who excel in entry examinations.

    These students have different interests to traditional Australian strengths e.g. in sport and this is causing some concern in the Establishment.

    So it is interesting that elements of a social apartheid having been dismantled are being reassembled.

    In the case of scholarships to fund specific sections of society is acceptable eg by region by religion by industry, by economic status, etc but apparently by race is now unacceptable.

    I would have thought if specific funding of disadvantaged black students was the intention, this could have been achieved in a less controversial way?

  15. I think it’s reasonable for Universities to perform outreach flexibly and certainly allow them to spend money to outreach to communities where their demographics do not meet the national demographics.

    If Berkeley believes there are qualified minority students who aren’t hearing their recruiting message I think it’s fine for Berkeley to go to their schools and tell them about Cal.

    And once they have applied, all applicants should be treated equally during the admissions process.

    OTOH, the scholarship seems like a bad idea. Moreover, it should be TRIVIAL for Berkeley to find a private entity to create and fund and run such a scholarship all on their own and legally. I think it’s completely reasonable for Berkeley Trustees to, on their own time, lobby the Bill Gates, Elon Musks, etc to do so.

    But Berkeley itself should remain hands off of that scholarship.

    AND FINALLY, as an alum of Cal and as a native Californian, what I think UC should really be doing is go back to their original mission: FOCUS ON TEACHING THE STUDENTS OF CALIFORNIA.

    To hell with out of staters CAL, who you prefer because they pay hire tuition. Stop all out of state admissions UNTIL California is being adequately served.

    California taxpayers LITERALLY died on the jobs funding you b*tards. California taxes went to you when taxpayers could have paid for mortgages, food, education.

    Go Bears!

  16. “For too damn long Asians have faced the hurdle of Race-based quotas in seeking to enroll at U Cal Berkeley”. How about that one you hypocritical pedagogue? How do you justify the oppression of people by using quotas to deny them an excellent education? Can’t those of Asian descent come into your Berkeley country club? Oh, I get it. You don’t want too many of “them”.

  17. I think this is one last hissy fit before SCOTUS hears Fisher v U of Texas again and makes unilateral, unfair, rules like this unconstitutional.

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