November 4, 2020

UC responds to Prop 16 outcome

Affirmative action measure failed, but UC restates commitment to serving underrepresented populations

Author: J.D. Warren
November 4, 2020

As California voters again voted down affirmative action, the University of California and UC Riverside affirmed their commitment to building the system’s underrepresented student population.

Proposition 16, which failed 56.1% to 43.9%, would have repealed 1996’s Proposition 209, which— among other things—banned the consideration of race, ethnicity, and gender in college admissions decisions.

In a statement issued Nov. 4, UC President Michael V. Drake affirmed the commitment of the nation’s preeminent public university system to “expand underrepresented groups’ access to a UC education.” 

In its statement, the UC Office of the President said Proposition 209 has hindered enrollment of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups.

Emily Engelschall, UCR Interim Associate Vice Chancellor, Enrollment Services, said UCR reaches out to underrepresented students to smooth their admissions pathway.

“Undergraduate Admissions intends to strengthen these efforts to increase the number of Black students applying and choosing to attend UCR, with a goal of ensuring the undergraduate Black community reflects the diversity of the state of California,” Engelschall said.

The passage of Proposition 209 led to a series of protests across college campus a quarter-century ago, including at UCR. In addition to impacting college admissions processes, the measure also made it illegal to factor race and gender into hiring and contracting at public agencies.

Proponents of Proposition 16 pointed to the growth in Latino high school graduates since 1996; from about 82,000 in 1997 to more than 229,000 in 2019. Latino and Black students are underrepresented compared to their high school graduation numbers in the UC system, as well as on California State University campuses. 

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