Head Count

"Acceptance of Blacks, Latinos to UC Plunges," blared the Los Angeles Times in a front-page headline April 1. The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, and scores of other newspapers similarly reported statistics released by the University of California for the fall freshman class, the first group of students admitted since the system abandoned racial preferences. UC-Berkeley has admitted 66 percent fewer African-American students and 53 percent fewer Latino students to the class of 2002. At UCLA, the drop in African-American and Latino freshmen was 43 percent and 33 percent, respectively.

But figures released by the University of California system the following day tell a more nuanced story: Overall enrollment of self-identified minority students throughout the eight-campus system did fall, but not so drastically. The UC system as a whole admitted 18 percent fewer African Americans and 7 percent fewer Latinos this year than last year overall.

These statistics, reported in the Sacramento Bee, probably understate the number of "minority" students who were actually accepted at a UC campus. One in seven of this fall's applicants--14.3 percent--refused to state their ethnicity, nearly three times as many as last year. And since the UC system, which will admit nearly 45,000 freshmen this fall, guarantees a slot at some campus to any student who meets minimum academic standards, as many as 4,000 additional students who had not been accepted as of April 1 remain eligible to enroll.

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