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Reclaiming Our Universities
We are living in a city with one of the largest and most prestigious public universities (UCLA) without an equitable presence of Black people. Our tax dollars are funding high quality education for local and global communities, while the African American population at University of California at Los Angeles falters at the lowest percentages in 30 years. You may ask...Why this is important?
Higher education means access to wealth and positions in society that can change the world. Apathy is the flip side of the coin called discrimination, and we have to continue to push for sustained representation in higher education. In a sense we are self-discriminating by sitting back and watching the numbers dwindle, along with amazing opportunities in higher education and the world. Will African Americans be left out of policy-making and social change by default?
This article is the first in a series entitled "Reclaiming Our Universities" sponsored by the Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education (the Alliance), a collective of community organizations and leaders that serve as a watchdog for African Americans in public higher education at UCLA, and the throughout the UC system. The Alliance has met weekly since 2006, after hearing the news that UCLA enrolled a freshman class of only 96 Black students. This caused community outrage and prompted a unified community response. The Alliance successfully advocated for a more fair and "holistic" admissions process, which helped double the number of Black freshman in 2007. Once a month, the Alliance will utilize this space to address issues around student, staff and faculty diversity at UCLA and across the UC system, and provide an update on the Alliance's advocacy efforts. As the current budget crisis forces a squeeze on already limited resources, we will monitor the outcomes to ensure that diversity remain a top priority at UCLA.
UCLA is important for several reasons:
1. UCLA is one of the top institutions in the country. It is a public school, funded by our tax dollars, and our talented Black students deserve a seat at the table.
2. Examining educational outcomes at the TOP level quickly tells the story of the performance of our educational institutions in the pipeline. The link between higher education and K-12 outcomes must be highlighted and addressed.
3. UCLA has produced leaders such as Tom Bradley, Ralph Bunche, Thurgood Marshall, Arthur Ashe, Yvonne Burke, Dianne Watson, and others who have made significant contributions to the local, national and international community. We need more of them!
4. Higher education, with its accolades of bachelors, masters, and doctorates, is a right which our ancestors fought and died for.
5. We need more college graduates from the local Black community who understand our needs, and have a vested interest in community conditions.
If you're not a gambler or a "math person", the numbers can be intimidating. But we will make it plain. The numbers tell a story, and highlight the areas of concern where inequitable and unjust distribution of resources exists. Simply put, looking at the numbers allows us to highlight specific areas where Black students are negatively impacted.
LA and UCLA in Context--Los Angeles is 9.4% Black. If all things are equitable, UCLA should be 9.4% Black. Currently UCLA is less than 3% Black.
UCLA Admissions--At UCLA, about 25% of all applications are accepted overall, so students have a 1 in 4 shot of being admitted.
UCLA Applications--UCLA is a numbers game. We must encourage Black students to shoot. Out of over 45,000 applications UCLA received for admission in 2009, less than 3,000 were from Black students. We need 5,000 to play the numbers game!
High School Eligibility--The California Master Plan for Higher Education states that 12.5% of high school graduates should be eligible for the UC system. Currently, only 6% of Black high school graduates are eligible. We must hold our schools accountable and double this number.
What You Can Do Now...
1) Encourage Black seniors and transfer students to apply to UCLA! Applications are online at www.admissions.ucla.edu and are due November 30, 2009.Visit the EAOP website for student, parent and educator resources www.eaop.ucla.edu
2) Share information and ideas at the Alliance meeting every Wednesday from 9am to 11am at the Los Angeles Urban League (3450 Mount Vernon Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90008) or email
Coming Next Month: October is College Application Month. Learn how holistic admissions at UCLA broadens the definition of "merit".
Jennifer White, President, UCLA Black Alumni Association can be reached via email at
The Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education
Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, 47th District, Mr. Mervyn Dymally, Brotherhood Crusade, Community Call to Action and Accountability,Â Ecumenical Congress _ First AME Church, Los Angeles Urban League, NAACP Los Angeles, Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Los Angeles, The Nation of Islam Queen's Historical Society, UCLA African Student Union, UCLA Black Alumni Association