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Racism at the University of California

On the eve of an historic event marking progress in Washington, D.C., some corners of the country are clinging to the past. This week, Jay Schalin of Human Events chronicled the effort to bring racial preferences back to the University of California.

Barack Obama’s election was the result of a creative, forward-thinking campaign that employed innovative strategies. Faced with doubt that racial tension would drag down his campaign (especially in the South), Obama and his team won southern states that hadn’t been taken by Democrats in a Presidential election in a generation. Obama will become the first black President on Tuesday because he and his team looked forward. The same philosophy apparently doesn’t permeate the University of California, which is trying to turn back the clock to a time when their student body could be constructed according to the students’ race.

As Schalin notes, UC has treated all students equally since 1996, when California voters decided that race shouldn’t matter to their state government. Yet faculty and administration boards and committees are considering steps to make the admission process “fairer” – which includes reducing the importance of standardized tests and placing more emphasis on “holistic” analysis of an application.

It sounds warm and fuzzy, but this plan would place lots of power in the hands of a person sitting in an admissions office reading over a high school student’s submission. Given the political agendas of many in the ivory tower, this should make high schoolers and their parents uncomfortable. Like the racial preferences policies of the 60s and 70s the faculty and administration want to mimic, this plan strips the applicant of the power to prove himself or herself worthy of admission to the University.

The post-Civil War South passed to Jim Crow laws to create segregation and preserve the social ends that slavery had established; now, with direct quotas off the table, proponents of identity politics are looking for new ways to create systems of racial preferences.

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