After the approval of Proposition 209 in 1996, all public California schools were banned from using race or gender to give preferences during the college admissions process. This end of affirmative action has been blamed for the decrease in diversity among the student populations attending the UCs. However, 24 years later on June 15, 2020, UC regents unanimously voted to repeal the ban on affirmative action and will once again return to helping underrepresented ethnic students get accepted into UC colleges.
This repeal comes during the 2020 election year with Proposition 16 on the ballot, which, if passed, will effectively overturn Proposition 209. Many college officials are looking to create more equal opportunities for students from racially and economically mixed backgrounds. The plan calls for phasing out the use of standardized tests as a determining factor to allow a more fair advantage for certain student groups. Ongoing concerns about disadvantaged students unable to afford private tutoring sessions as well as the recent cancellations of the SAT and ACT have pushed many universities to become test optional and to reconsider the fairness of the practice.
UC colleges have seen a five percent drop among black, Latinx, and indigenous peoples from 1995 to 1998. However, over time, percentages of these underrepresented groups rose. According to the LA Times, white students today only make up 21.9% of the student population with Asian Americans making up the majority 35.72%. Meanwhile, there are now 34.3% Hispanic students and 4.7% Black students attending the UC campuses. Although statistics for these groups have significantly grown, there are still calls for evening out the racial diversities at schools.
Although affirmative action may appear to give preferential treatment to the underrepresented groups, college officials have remained explicit that there will be no racial quotas to be fulfilled. Many concerns regard potential caps on certain ethnic groups, but the UCs have made it clear that the consideration of race would only come in as another factor, similar to student academic history, income background, or others usually accounted for during the application process.
Information comes from the LA Times, KQED