Attaining diversity

STATE ISSUES: Race and gender should not be considered during the admissions process for the University of California.

The debate over campus diversity — particularly what qualifies as a diverse campus — is emotionally charged and difficult to navigate. At the same time, it is hard to deny that campus diversity, by any measure, enriches the college experience while providing education unattainable in the classroom.

In the past — as we do now — we have supported the holistic review admissions process originally endorsed by the UC Board of Regents in January. Holistic review best judges an applicant’s qualifications by assessing his or her application as a whole, taking into account personal tragedies and socioeconomic hardships.

Essentially, an applicant’s ability to perform well in the rigorous academic climate of the University of California should be the major determining factor in the admissions process. Senate Bill 185, authored by state Senator Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, would allow UC and CSU schools to consider factors such as gender, race and economic status in undergraduate and graduate admissions decisions. While there is no doubt the university’s aim should be to replicate the diverse demographics of California, considering gender and race in admissions decisions is unnecessarily divisive. The two traits alone have very little to do with applicants’ strengths or weaknesses.

Other qualities must be taken into account during the admissions process to ensure a well-rounded, well-prepared student body, such as academic and leadership skills. If gender or race have had a large impact on applicants, they can still portray that in their applications without being afforded preferential treatment. Such is the beauty of holistic review. By judging the application as a whole, a more accurate representation of the individual’s potential is revealed solely based on strength of application — not gender or race.

Though inequality remains a constant presence, preferential admissions treatment based on gender and race is the wrong solution. Instead, the state can focus on addressing education gaps between gender and ethnic groups earlier in a person’s education, alleviating many of the problems that would necessitate preferential treatment at the university level.

Reaching a proper level of diversity at the university to benefit all of California will take time, but it is well worth the wait.