Regents Rescind SP-1,2

In response to controversy surrounding dropping rates of minority admissions to the University of California, the UC Board of Regents unanimously voted to rescind SP-1 and SP-2, the policies that banned race-based admission and hiring in the university.

David Pilz
Guardian

The resolution, named RE-28, rescinds policies that critics say discourage minorities from applying to schools in the UC system.

Regent Judith Hopkinson, who authored the resolution, stated that it will not resemble affirmative action, which is banned by the California Constitution as a result of the 1996 passage of Proposition 209.

Student Regent Justin Fong opposed previous drafts of RE-28 because they did not explicitly repeal SP-1 and SP-2. Fong had planned to introduce an alternate measure, but reversed his decision and voted to pass RE-28 after its wording was changed to read “”Resolution rescinding SP-1 and SP-2″” instead of “”Superseded SP-1 and SP-2.””

“”Fong’s proposal was not introduced because changes were made Tuesday night, making it acceptable to everyone,”” said UC spokesperson Trey Davis. “”There was a general consensus that this was the right move to reaffirm the regents’ commitment to a diverse student body.””

The resolution garnered votes from typically clashing boardmembers, making unlikely bedfellows of Ward Connerly, who was instrumental in the 1995 passage of SP-1 and SP-2, and William Bagley, an outspoken critic of the two policies.

The resolution states that it will “”seek out and enroll, on each of its campuses, a student body that demonstrates high academic achievement or exceptional talent, and that encompasses the broad diversity of backgrounds characteristic of California.””

According to UCSD Assistant Vice Chancellor of Enrollment Management Richard Backer, the university has previously admitted 50 percent of its students based on academic criteria such as grades and test scores, and the other 50 percent based on those factors in addition to demonstrated personal strengths, such as leadership and community involvement.

“”The rescinding has done away with admitting students based solely on academic criteria,”” Backer said. “”The purpose of it was to let underrepresented students know that UC is a friendly place.””

According to Backer, SP-1 and SP-2 discouraged minority applicants from enrolling in UC schools.

“”When SP-1 and SP-2 were passed in, [underrepresented students] got the impression that they were not welcome at the UC system,”” Backer said. “”The regents are sending what they believe to be a clear message.””

To ensure that the university is a friendly place for under-represented students, RE-28 also stipulates that “”the university shall have programs available to assist in the retention of all students so as to assure that they successfully complete their education.””

The UC Academic Senate will be responsible for creating the new admissions criteria. Members have already been asked by UC President Richard C. Atkinson in a Feb. 15 letter to review admissions criteria. That review is expected to be completed by the end of the year and will now be incorporated with post-SP-1 and SP-2 policies.

“”The Academic Senate is being asked to make a more comprehensive review of applications and to move away from quantitative formulas,”” Davis said. “”The changes to the admissions policies are to be implemented such that the fall 2002 class would be reviewed subject to those policies.””

Locally, the pressure has been on the regents to repeal the two policies. Students protested their implementation last March in the Price Center Plaza with the “”52-33-28″” rally. Reaction to the repeal has been mostly positive.

“”This victory for students sets a pathway for concrete admissions policy reforms of the future,”” said A.S. President Jeff Dodge. “”Addressing issues relevant to a lack of diversity at UCSD, the repeal of SP-1 and SP-2 opens avenues of discussion and ideas to actually create change on our campus.””

A.S. Vice President External Dylan deKervor noted that she felt the repeal would be effective despite California law outlawing the consideration race or sex in hiring and admissions.

“”Even though Prop. 209 is still in place, the act of rescinding SP-1 and SP-2 is a huge act of goodwill toward the under-represented students on our campus, and it’s paving the way for future progress,”” deKervor said.

Vince Vasquez, chairman of the Conservative Union at UCSD, said the decision sends a mixed message since it goes against Proposition 209, which was passed by a majority of California voters.

“”It was obviously symbolic politics,”” he said. “”I was disappointed but I know it means a lot to a lot of people. I respect the decision but I don’t agree with it.””

Senior Staff Writers Jeffrey White and Alison Norris and Staff Writer Margaret O’Neill contributed to this article.

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