Disclaimer: These are all just unformed thoughts. I’m sick, barely slept and have traveled through way too much California in the last 30 hours.
I got back from Davis a few hours ago. I unpacked my backpack, changed in to pajamas and plopped on the couch to simultaneously watch the Dodgers lose to the Colorado Rockies and go online for the first time since 8 am.
Davis is a small college town near Sacramento and the site of the UC Regents meeting. In the past couple of years, I’ve gone to a lot of Regents meetings. I’ve spoken about financial aid issues, my concerns about the rising student fees, the crisis in the diversity, and the need to really address this problem by fully funding academic preparation (outreach) programs. This time, the Regents would be discussing the outcomes of a study group to assess the impact of Proposition 209 — which banned the consideration of race and ethnicity in admissions and hiring at the UC and other state agencies — on diversity.
In case you haven’t been reading my blog very long, the issue of racial and ethnic diversity at the UC campuses has been a big issue on my radar since I was in high school. I was part of the first class admitted under the affirmative action ban in 1998 and that experience profoundly impacted my outlook on the issue.
While at the meeting, I was pretty astounded to hear the so-called findings. Did a study group made up of regents, students, and UC Office of the President staff/administrators really need a year to figure these things out?
1) Diversity is fundamental to UC’s mission, quality, and service to the state of California. The importance of diversity to our University is very well expressed in the Academic Senate’s Diversity Statement, which reads in part, “Because the core mission of the University… is to serve the interests of the State of California, it must seek to achieve diversity among its student bodies and… its employees.”
2) Change is needed to more effectively seek and support diversity. While there are many pockets of success and innovation, the University needs to focus greater and sustained attention on its diversity efforts.
3) Clear, consistent, and regularly produced data are necessary to “shine a light” on the University’s efforts to increase and support diversity and to hold University leaders accountable for progress in this area.
Students behind me snickered as the UC provost presented these findings. They wanted some meat, something concrete, but all they got were these recommendations*:
1) Adopt as Regents Policy the University of California Diversity Statement adopted by the Assembly of the Academic Senate in May 2006
2) Affirm that change is needed to achieve a level of diversity among students, faculty, and staff appropriate to our mission, as well as an open and inclusive climate on each of our campuses
3) Require the President of the University to report annually to The Regents on the status of diversity at the University.
Following this, the president of the UCSA and another student presented their views on the report. They called for specific action which would address admissions requirements as well as funding for academic preparation (outreach) programs.
And then the comments started. It was weird. Suddenly all the Regents — the same body, though not the same people that passed SP-1 which banned affirmative action at the UC in 1995 — were patting themselves on the back for producing this great report. The report was the brainchild of the 2006-07 student regent, María Ledesma, a graduate student in education at UCLA (woo woo!).
As I listened to the comments by the appointed and elected regents, I was pretty astounded. I wondered what would really come out of this report. I’ve seen the numbers and didn’t need the report to tell me there was a problem. Like the other students at the meeting, I really hope the report doesn’t get shelved and forgotten.
[*To be fair, there's more to the report. The overview is 31 pages and in October a consolidated report from the 4 working groups (undergraduate, graduate & professional, faculty, and climate) will be published.]