Berkeley High student, protesters claim UC Berkeley admissions discriminate against minorities

Berkeley High senior Aillen Zazueta-Bella, on the right, speaks about her UC Berkeley application appeal.
Kevin Foote/Senior Staff
Berkeley High senior Aillen Zazueta-Bella, on the right, speaks about her UC Berkeley application appeal.

Related Posts

A local high school student and demonstrators held a sparsely attended press conference in front of Sproul Hall Sunday against UC Berkeley admissions, which they claim discriminate against qualified underrepresented minority students.

Berkeley High School senior Aillen Zazueta-Bella, who received a rejection letter from the campus, said she belongs at UC Berkeley and plans to appeal her admissions decision. She was joined by members of the activist group BAMN and the Defend Affirmative Action Party — a student political party running candidates in the ASUC elections.

The conference followed a Friday occupation of the campus registrar’s office that was organized by BAMN and the Defend Affirmative Action Party to demand that the campus double the number of underrepresented minority students enrolled for the fall 2012 freshman class. Both events occurred on the heels of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision last Monday to reject a lawsuit challenging Proposition 209, which upheld the California voter-based ban on considering race as a factor in UC admissions.

Having maintained a 3.85 unweighted GPA and extracurricular commitments, Zazueta-Bella said she was “shocked” that she was not accepted at her first-choice university.

“I’m not just standing here for my specific situation but also for others in my situation,” she said. “I was disappointed and surprised that I didn’t get in … but I still believe in public education.”

Members of BAMN and the Defend Affirmative Action Party held signs asking to “double underrepresented minority student enrollment at UC Berkeley” and advocated Zazueta-Bella’s case as one of many facing disadvantaged black, Latino and American Indian students.

Tania Kappner, a teacher from Oakland Technology, said many minority students are discouraged from applying to college given their acceptance rates.

“This campus should look like California,” she said of affirmative action in public education.

Zazueta-Bella said her parents were on their way to the campus’s admissions office when they ran into the Friday occupation by BAMN and the Defend Affirmative Action Party, who then took up her cause.

“We are very proud to meet Aillen and fight for her,” said BAMN organizer Yvette Felarca.

Weiru Fang covers Berkeley communities.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Mig

         I’ve have a 4.39 GPA and recieved 800s on both Math II and Chemistry, took a total of 7 academic classes a year for the last 3 years, I’ve been a tutor for the last 3 years. I was mad when I didn’t get into  Berkeley. I’m my family earns about 20,000 a year. I didn’t get in. I’m pissed but at this point there’s nothing I can do about it though.

    • Mig


  • I actually know these people and know this student and I am disappointed by the disparaging comments made here attacking their character and basically saying theres nothing wrong with this talented and qualified student being rejected from the flagship public university that today is outrageously segregated. I’m a student in Oakland Unified, right next to the city of Berkeley, and the general knowledge even in the geeky, nerdy crowds is that only the privileged people in the hills can go through freshman admissions. If Aillen can’t get in with a 4.2 what does that say too all the other prospective Cal students?

    Also, SATs and all these standardized tests dont mean shite when it comes to what a student has actually learned or how well they’ll do in college. They are discriminatory standards set up to keep minority students, no matter how culturally assimilated, down. Just the way Collegeboard crafts the SATs with the experimental section weeding out questions that on average minority students do better than white students in and the consistant ‘achievement gap’ as a result shows their slants and the depths the various administrations and organizations around the nation will go through to keep campuses segregated. Stereotype threat is a very real thing along with systematic discrimination in not just college admissions but also k-12 schooling. I’m a Chinese American living in a majority Latino neighborhood, I know so before making assumptions about the conditions that she grew up in think about the depths society has shaped us to discount minorities, to throw in our faces that only by pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps we can become greater. 
    As a quick footnote, GPAs measure economic privilege and by counting them too high as a admissions criteria it marginalizes the countless students in urban and majority minority schools that dont have access to either the AP classes that bump up GPAs or economic privilege to afford SAT prep schools or whatever. A 4.0 for many black for latino students is simply a greater triumph than say a 4.o from a white student who doesnt have to deal with crappy societal expectations/stereotypes, english as a second language, criminally underfunded k-12 schooling, as in many cases generational poverty as a result. A 4.0 for someone like her in Berkeley is a great achievement when factoring in the racial tracking we all as minority students growing up in urban school districts endure. 
    Her struggle is my struggle and if she doesnt win that what are my chances. 

  • X

    Three eight five and no mention of standardized test scores or AP.  Weak sauce.  Try Riverside or UCSC.  This doesn’t even cut it for SB anymore, nevermind SD, Davis and the powder blue school. 

  • Tim55bear

    Cal is one of the toughest and most prestigious universities in the world…not EVERY person that has world class credentials gets in…(Glad I did…) 

  • GBC

    she’s gonna known as THAT GIRL if her appeals goes through

  • Carlos

    such a fallacious argument BAMN tries to make. One Latino student with a meager 3.85 GPA doesn’t get a ticket–> the whole system is fcked up. please….

  • Nunya Beeswax

    This is all rather reminiscent of the underperformer who petitions for a grade to be raised from B to A because he’s “an A student”.  I’m sorry for her that she didn’t get in, but it doesn’t seem as though she has a handle on the range of criteria for admission.

  • Jmannheim

    if you really don’t want to go to a lower ranked UC, go to a community college, prove yourself and then apply as a transfer.

  • Guest

    California really needs a stand your ground law.

  • Lynn

    I had a 3.4 GPA, taken no AP/honors/advance classes at all, 10 hours of community service, less than 1500 on SATS, dont even get me started on Subject Tests………somehow I got in by a miracle called a Personal Statement. If I can get in with my below average self then this girl definitely did something wrong, most likely her Personal Statement. She probably made herself sound like a victim of race/institution/etc. which is something that basically turns you away. 

    This university doesnt want victims, they want people who are going to be leaders of something productive. She’s still playing the victim…

  • EE

    Doesn’t sound too “shocked”: 

    And btw, this girl and BAMN do NOT respresent the views of all minorities (“latinos”) at Cal. 

  • Ericka

    Comment from her facebook page: “I KNOWWWWWWWWWWWWWW SOOOO SAD !!!!!!!!!! i wasnt expecting to get in lol but its ok i have other plans” – and when interviewed for this, she says she’s surprised she didn’t get it? Sounds like she’s unnecessarily hyping this us to match the views of BAMN and DAAP.

  • Ali

    Affirmative Action is a last resort action! Stop playing the race. Berkeley admits based on merit not ethnicity! 

  • Ngawang

    Also a very important aspect of your application is your personal statement, and even if you have a 4.0, you need to able to write and demonstrate why you deserve to go to Cal. I can empathize with you but come on, I am sure you can do better. My advice go to community college work extra hard and write a damn kick ass essay, I promise you will get into Cal. Atleast that is how got in, and I am a minority too. 

  • GoldenBear

    There goes BAMN milking the pleas of a disgruntle young lady crying “Wolf” for their 15 minutes.  These people need to stop acting like they represent the perspectives of minorities.

  • That 3.85 unweighted GPA could mean a lot of different things depending on her coursework and SAT scores. If her coursework and SAT scores are strong, then it could mean she was academically competitive but would duplicate the admitted student body. If her coursework and SAT scores were weak, then it could mean she benefited from grade inflation and/or race bias on her teachers’ part.

  • Jmannheim

    is the person in the red shirt next to her a boy or a girl?

  • Brian

    Somebody call the WAAAAMBULANCE

  • tay

    3.85 GPA? I had a 4.0 unweighted, 4.6 weighted. Discrimination? I think not. 

  • Oralemuchacho

    I’m 1/2 Latino, 1/4 Native American and 1/4 white. I worked my ass off to get into Berkeley. I’m sure Zazueta-Bella also worked her ass off too but it wasn’t good enough. Not everyone is admitted into Berkeley. That’s life. Playing the race card is just bad all around. Affirmative Action does the person, the institution and society at large a huge disservice.

  • Jksdhfkjsdhf

    LATINOS ARE CRYING AGAIN…give them some handouts.

    • Arvinder

      let them get graded easier in high school classes and on the SAT as well!

    • GoldenBear

      How does one disgruntle young (Latina?) lady translate into “latinoS”?

    • JJMMC

      What the fuck, dude? Latino immigrants are, on a whole, the most humble and hardest-working group of individuals I’ve come across.

  • Sdfsdf

    Cry about it.

  • Carlos

    3.85 gpa for admission to Cal is low.  Sorry — you should have studied more and spent less time hanging out with BAMN fools.

    • Steve Jobs

       honestly, I had friends with a 4.3 and didn’t get into Cal.  Also, have you SEEN the demographic breakdown of UC Berkeley??

      • CalBox

        3.85 GPA was unweighted. 4.3 is a weighted GPA. Maybe her sense of entitlement was reflected in her admission essays and turned off the admission officers. Freshman admission is insanely competitive. Graduating from BHS probably didn’t help her. If she had attended a school in the Central Valley and overcame socio-economic barriers she may have  had a better chance. 3.85 and extracurricular activities are a dime a dozen.
        If she’s really set on attending Cal, she could go to community college for two years and transfer. It will also giver her time to mature and not be so easily “shocked” when things don’t go her way.

  • Calipenguin

    She looks white.  She could pass for a white European.  What kind of racial diversity would she bring to Cal other than her last name?  I’m amazed at her sense of entitlement.  Her high school teachers and counselors must have given her the impression that any Latina with a 3.85 unweighed GPA is an automatic admit at Cal.  Perhaps Cal’s admissions readers are finally doing their job and looking at how much adversity she truly faced growing up with upper middle class parents in Berkeley instead of, say, East L.A.

    • Arvinder

      yeah i was gonna say she looks white, unlike that BAMN boy?girl?? next to her. plus look at her fancy peacoat!

      • Ngawang

        what has her peacoat got to do with the argument. comeon lets keep the discussion relevant Arvinder

    • GoldenBear

      She is obviously milking the coverage for all its worth. People have to understand that there are only a certain amount of students that will be admitted each year, this means that many applicants will be denied admission. 

  • Guest

    Berkeley admitted 26% of applicants for the c/o 2015. Berkeley admitted about 19.5% of applicants for the c/o 2016.

    If you have an unweighted 3.85 GPA and you are a URM, you don’t need a high  SAT score to be admitted to Berkeley/UCLA. Asians with 3.95+ unweighted GPA’s and 2300+ SATs are turned away.

    If Berkeley “discriminate[s] against qualified underrepresented minority students” or does not already use backdoor affirmative action policies, Berkeley’s undergraduate student body would comprise of more Asians/Whites.

  • guest

    Hello everyone! Did all of you forget what happened at Claremont College and the cheating dean at that school and of course with the  East Coast with all those cheating students paying more than $3000.00 a pop to take the SAT exams? Students were admitted to their blue blood Ivy Colleges cheating and lying their way just like their wealthy parents. These parents pay their cronies to write their children’s personal statements and fill out their forms to gain entrance into schools such as Berkeley. The UC system is to blame and needs to revamp their 14 point criteria where it states that students must have at least a 3.o. when they are accepting students with a weighted GPA 4.4 given to them by their white teachers that turn their heads around when these so called gifted students are all cheating using their smart phones. The trouble with California is that politicians, professors are all aware of the little secret that has been around for years: Cheat and lie your way into the best schools and your careers! My gosh, now it makes sense why we are in this recession and why we are all paying for our homes being underwater, gas and food prices sky high! 

    • Stan De San Diego

       Try to stick to a coherent discussion on a single topic instead of some unhinged rant, please.

      • GoldenBear

          You have written on more than one occasion that it is hard work and not ethnic background or income that should determine one’s place in society. Correct?  I would like to see you address a few of the particulars of his comment.  He mentioned a particular case (Claremont College) and then made some very broad claims, which would lead us to ask ,”how do you know that rich people have their cronies  write personal statements and fill out forms for their children?”

        • Stan De San Diego

          For starters, I’m not condoning cheating, but by the gratuitous remark about “white teachers” this ass-clown is again suggesting some type of racist conspiracy. In addition, Claremont happens to be a private college, which as far as I’m concerned should be free to determine their own standards of admission. What goes on in the UC (and CSU) system that are supported by taxpayer dollars certainly demands a much more objective standard. His (or her) need to equate “wealth” with “cheating” sounds like silly bleating from the Occupy playbook, and pretty much nails this person as yet another whining malcontent.

  • BAMN Member


    • Stan De San Diego

       Get a life.

    • Carlos

       BAMN member?  How did the kool-aid taste?

  • the devil

    Latino is not a race. UC Berkeley is not a right.  It is just a school. But, as you survey UC Berkeley, you might wonder where all the white people are. If you want to say anything about minorities at UCB, there may be more Asians that any other race. It’s not just smarts, however,  it takes money and hard work.

    • Icyhotlyrics

      but people in the surrounding area have priority for admissions. UC berkeley, just like other UCs and CSUs has to admit a greater proportion of the students from neighboring cities and towns.

      • Icyhotlyrics

        It is therefore a tremendous shock for her, with a 3.85 unweighted GPA and being from a geographical area that gets priority, that she was denied.

  • Eduardo

    I’m latino, I had a 4.o gpa when I applied a few years back, but I don’t think I didn’t get in because I was latino, there were just more qualified applicants.  Chill out girl, you’re making yourself look like a fool

  • Guess

    So her parents were on their way to complaint because she didn’t get into Berkeley them meet BAMN and decide to play the race card. Sorry Aillen Zazueta-Bella, it takes more than a 3.85 GPA to get into Berkeley. You should had work harder. 

    • Guest

      Not exactly, in recent years, under unitary comprehensive review,  almost every  underrepresented  minority Berkeley High applicant with a 3.85 unweighted GPA and at least average Sat scores  has been admitted. There is no comparison whatsoever between the academic credentials of Berkeley High underrepresented minorities admitted to Berkeley and Berkeley High Asians and Whites admitted to Berkeley.  Berkeley High Asians and Whites not admitted to Berkeley  have, on average,  much  higher Gpa’s  and Sat scores and more outstanding extracurricular records than Berkeley High underrepresented minorities admitted to Berkeley. There are Berkeley High underrepresented minorities admitted to Berkeley that one would think  might be admitted to UC Santa Cruz.  Under unitary comprehensive review,  two readers read the personal statement to learn of the race and ethnicity of the applicant in order to be able to place his achievements in the proper context.  Each reader then assigns a score of  1-5 to the applicant. 5 means the applicant did not meet minimum UC standards. 1-4 are arbitrary with no set standards. Unless the  readers’ scores differs by more than +1, there is no further review and the scores are averaged.  If there is a disagreement by more than +1,  then,  a Senior Reader who is an actual OAR employee instead of a seasonally hired reader, scores the application. Then, it depends on the College. L&S admits students as a group regardless of major. COE admits students to each major. For example, if there are going to be 10,000 admits to L&S and there are 2,000 1’s, all the 1’s are admitted.  If there are 2,000 1.5’s, all the 1.5’s are admitted. The same for 3,000 2’s and so on until a Tier is reached where there are fewer slots than applicants  in the Tier. At that point,  all the applicants in the Tier are scored once more and the class is filled.  Aillen must have had the misfortune of having two unsympathetic readers who were not on board the back door affirmative action program that is the entire raison d’etre of unitary comprehensive review. If appealed, that would have been  unlikely to reoccur, so she may actually have had a  good chance of being admitted on appeal  if  her parents had not encountered BAMN  and  thereby made  this whole issue public.

  • Guest1

     maybe you should have gotten over a 1750 on the SAT before you consider yourself an automatic admit. IQ is a far better indicator of academic success than socio-economic status, its called socio-biology. Benefits should not be conferred based on race, but by merit. You can go take your 3.85 to a different UC campus. And I am Latino.

    • GoldenBear

      So, you are aware of the genesis of the so-called IQ test? It was originally intended to identify the mentally challenged. But, in what point are you trying to make about IQ, academic success, socio-economic status and socio-biology?

    • student

      maybe you should take a sociology class. people in a disadvantaged socio-economic situation are generally tied to a low-quality education system. because of that poor education, kids don’t get to nurture their talents or enhance their learning abilities. that has a huge impact on getting into college, if even deciding to/being able to attend college.

  • Guest

    Why do we always have to look at Yvette Felarca?

    Can Google please hire this woman away?  OK, OK, we know she’s not that bright, but still…do it as a favor to the state.

  • Guest

    If the campus is supposed to look like the state, where are all the whites?  They’re serious URMs.

    Also, just because this chick got a 3.85, which is nothing to be that proud of, she shouldn’t think she’s an auto-admit.  The admit rate this year will be under 20%.  I’d argue that it’s still not selective enough, given that this is BERKELEY.

    • GoldenBear

      There is nothing wrong with a 3.85 GPA.  There is a problem with the young lady’s sense of entitlement and her desperate plea for attention, which led her to link up with the infamous BAMN. These people are blundering idiots that do no one a favor.

      • Stan De San Diego

         That’s a reasonable statement.

  • Arvinder

    Aillen Zazueta-Bella probably didn’t take too many AP/Honors classes. Otherwise she would state her weighted GPA. Enjoy UC Santa Cruz!

    • Bernie

      She did state her weighted GPA, 4.3. This article excludes it. Blame the reporter!

  • Guest

    Ridiculous. 3.85 is not particularly high, how does she feel to have a ‘right’ to be on this campus? I can’t respect people who say life isn’t fair every time something doesn’t go their way. Plenty of poor whites and poor Asians fight to get into the school just as hard as the underprivileged minorities. Work to fight the difference at the source: poor K-12 education. I had a 3.99 unweighted and over a 2200 SAT, in addition to being tennis captain and being involved in the community. That is what it takes to get into Berkeley.  I wasn’t rich or privileged at all, I just work hard.

    • Guest

       She lied on the news and said she got a 4.2 GPA or something like that.

    • GoldenBear

      I wouldn’t exactly lump together “poor whites and asians” unless I was lumping poor_____ (plug in whatever ethnicity).  But yes, some highly qualified students  admitted and some highly qualified are denied admission.  There are only so many spots.

    • Icyhotlyrics

      3.99 unweighted really? did your grades include different weights for + and – ? It would take (at a minimum) 100 classes in which 99 were A’s and 1 was a B to get a 3.99 unweighted GPA. [4(99)+3(1)]/100=3.99

  • Arvinder

    what did u get on your SAT honey?

  • Hfv471

    “This campus should look like California,” she said of affirmative action in public education.

    I believe that the percentage of Asian Americans on this campus way exceeds that of this state.  I have a feeling that they’ll be the next group to start complaining if you want the campus to look like California.

  • Guest

    lots of talented, qualified applicants get turned away..please don’t pull the race card again. look at this campus…most people are non-white

    • GoldenBear

      Yes, my thoughts exactly.  There is no “guaranteed” admission based off of one’s grades, test scores, and extra-curricular activities.  Many qualified and unqualified applicants are denied admission on a yearly basis–them are the brakes. 

  • 1776

    I’m glad no one, not even the courts, take BAMN seriously

    • libsrclowns

      BAMN = comic relief for the rest of us. I bet they get credit from their ethnic studies profs.

      Grind away clowns