Students rally for more diversity

A rally and “”Trick or Treat”” march advocating increased use of affirmative action in UC admissions policies was held Tuesday at the Price Center.

Chris Padfield
Guardian

The event coincided with “”National Take Affirmative Action Day,”” a nationwide campaign involving thousands of students who support increased campus diversity.

“”The administrators must know that we, the students, want justice, that we want an education, and most importantly that we want more students of color at UCSD,”” said Delia Pacheco of the campus-based group Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan.

Since the 1995 passage of Proposition 209 and the inception of “”UC Standing Policies 1 and 2,”” UCSD admissions numbers have shown a decline in admissions granted to various demographic groups.

Chris Padfield
Guardian

The UC Regents repealed SP-1 and SP-2 in May, a move that was seen by many as largely symbolic because using race in college admissions and hiring is now prohibited by California law.

“”Anything that increases the awareness of the campus climate is helpful,”” said Edwina F. Welch, director of the Cross Cultural Center. “”If you take a look at all of the students that are here today, they are all here because they care about their campus experience.””

A “”Death to Diversity”” graveyard was constructed in the Price Center Plaza, including tombstones presenting statistics that indicate the gradual decrease in acceptance of African-Americans, Native Americans and Latinos.

In 1997, the combination of these three ethnic groups accounted for 13 percent of UCSD’s admissions pool. This figure dropped to less than 2 percent in 2000.

“”We are told that we just have to work harder, that we should complain less, and that anyone can make it,”” said Denise Pacheco, a member of MEChA and Students for Economic Justice. “”But as we look at our university … we know that there are not even enough African-American students to fill a lecture hall, showing that we are still very separate and unequal.””

A concert featuring 4th Avenue Jones, a Los Angeles-based hip-hop group, kicked off the event.

Student speakers and performers, as well as professor Ross Frank of UCSD’s ethnic studies department, then took the stage, sharing their insight on how to make UCSD more diverse and more accessible to minorities.

Afterward, the crowd marched to Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs Joseph Watson’s office, where the participants made their demands. They advocated changing the current UC admissions policy when the UC Board of Regents meets later this month.

Frank, who is the chairperson for the Affirmative Action and Diversity Committee at UCSD, said that UC policy “”more or less states that representative access to education is to reflect the demographics of California’s population.””

Census statistics show that percentages of Latinos and African-Americans in California are 32 percent and 7 percent, respectively. The two ethnic groups make up 2 percent and 1 percent of the student body at UCSD, respectively.

Students from campus groups such as the Associated Students, SEJ, Student Affirmative Action Committee, Coalition of South Asian People, MEChA, Kaigiban Pilipino, African-American Student Union and Asian Pacific Student Alliance helped organize Tuesday’s event.

Rally speakers urged the removal of students’ pictures from StudentLink to protect the student body from “”potential racial profiling.””

Speakers also advocated expanding the curriculum of the literature, ethnic studies, and history departments to include a wider cultural range, and asked for increased funding for the Cross Cultural Center, the Women’s Center, and the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Resource Office.

Proposition 209, also known as the California Civil Rights Initiative, mandates that the state “”shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education or public contracting.””

Members of the A.S. Council also had a presence at the rally.

“”Affirmative action is not designed to discriminate,”” said Jenn Brown, A.S. Vice President Internal. “”It is a means to end discrimination.””

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