BLM Movement leads to change in university admissions process

Photo of Black Lives Matter protests
David McAllister/File
While UC Berkeley has previously been inspired by the BLM movement in its admission efforts, a constitutional amendment prevents possible admission changes.

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While the UC Berkeley department of undergraduate admissions has previously been inspired by the Black Lives Matter, or BLM, movement in its outreach and yield efforts, a constitutional amendment prevents changes to be made to the admissions process.

This comes in the wake of a recent survey, published Tuesday by Kaplan, a standardized test prep company. The survey revealed 28% of top American universities said the Black Lives Matter movement has led to changes in their admissions process.

“California’s Proposition 209 does not allow California public universities to consider race and ethnicity in our admission process,” said campus spokesperson Janet Gilmore in an email. “It prevents us from making any changes in the process in response to BLM.”

California’s Prop. 209, passed in 1996 to ban affirmative action in the state, was up for repeal in November 2020 through Prop. 16, which would have revoked the measure. Prop. 16 ultimately failed with only 42.8% of the vote.

The Kaplan survey also indicated that this summer’s largest enrollment demographic decline was among Black undergraduate students, at over 8%.

Faced with the inability to consider race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin due to Prop. 209, UC Berkeley has resorted to a holistic review system, according to Gilmore. Students are evaluated within their respective educational contexts.

Admissions officers have also sought to calibrate their outreach approaches. Gilmore noted that admissions officers have become more inclusive in their messaging.

“Admissions officials continue to do their work with a commitment to increasing partnerships that support these outreach efforts,” Gilmore said in the email.

Part of this approach has been undertaken by Assistant Vice Chancellor and Director of Undergraduate Admissions Olufemi Ogundele. He has improved the admissions office’s system to increase diversity, Gilmore added.

“That work has already paid off with the most diverse freshman admitted class in 30 years and a more diverse application pool,” Gilmore said in the email.

Contact David Villani at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter at @davidvillani7.