Today, the Class of 2000 enters Boalt Hall. As a result of the regents' policy decisions on affirmative action in admissions, this class has no Native Americans, and fewer African-Americans, Chicanos and Latinos than any of our entering classes since the mid-1960s. Although we had anticipated that the race-neutral policy would produce a sharp drop in our minority enrollment, we had not expected such dire results.
Boalt Hall instituted a race-conscious admissions policy in the late '60s because, as a public law school training lawyers to serve all segments of society, we recognized the educational advantage of including students from different backgrounds who can challenge each other's ideas. Our policy was strikingly successful. The experiences and perspectives of our minority students improved the school and enhanced the legal profession. Many are now partners in law firms, directors of public interest firms, law professors, judges and public officials.
What can we expect for the future? One thing we cannot expect is a sudden change in the rules that govern us. For the foreseeable future, our admissions policies will be restricted by the regents' resolution, and if it is upheld in the courts, Proposition 209.
Nevertheless, we are already re-examining our policies and procedures, as well as studying those used by other schools, to see whether we can achieve greater diversity within these constraints. And we are turning to our friends in the private sector to help us become more competitive in recruiting the minority students we admit.
The policies that have produced such a dramatic change at Boalt Hall today will, unless checked in other states, produce similar effects in the legal profession over the coming years. Both on and off campus, there are undoubtedly differences among us concerning race-based affirmative action as a means to a worthy end. But I think we would all agree that increasing the numbers of highly trained minority lawyers is a worthy end. We are proud of what the law school and its graduates have achieved. I hope that, together, we can find new ways to continue that tradition to the best of our ability.
Dean Herma Hill Kay