UC regents rescind SP-1, SP-2
Board reaffirms role of faculty in setting admissions policy

By Cathy Cockrell, Public Affairs


ward c.

UC Regent Ward Connerly discusses the vote to rescind SP-1 and SP-2 during a press conference May 16 in San Francisco. Behind him is Judith Hopkinson, the regent who authored the compromise resolution, which received unanimous support.
Noah Berger photo

17 May 2001 | The UC Board of Regents on May 16 voted unanimously to rescind SP-1 and SP-2 — its six-year-old policies banning consideration of race and sex in admissions, hiring and contracting — and reaffirmed the university’s commitment to a diverse student body.

In a session in San Francisco full of surprises and emotion, the regents approved, by a 22-0 vote, a resolution finalized only hours before by its sponsors, university administrators, and state legislators.

"This is a great day for the University of California and the people of California," said UC President Richard Atkinson, who cast the final "yes" vote on the measure.

The regents charged the Academic Senate with developing new admissions criteria, set a tight deadline for putting those guidelines in place, and recommitted the university to outreach programs designed to help prepare K-12 students for UC admission. At the same time, it acknowledged that the university is now governed by state law — enacted as a result of Proposition 209 — requiring it to disregard race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in admissions, hiring and contracting.

Chancellor Berdahl said the action "reaffirms in a very positive way our commitment to access. It is an important symbolic statement of our values, that excellence and opportunity continue to be fundamental values."

A delegation of nine elected officials — including Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante and Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg, State Senator Gloria Romero, and Assembly members Dion Aroner, Wilma Chan, Jackie Goldberg, Jerome Horton and Marco Firebaugh , chairman-elect of the legislature’s Latino Caucus — appeared in person to emphasize support for a "clear and unambiguous" repeal of SP-1 and SP-2.

Regents and legislators expressed the hope that Wednesday’s action would send a clear message that the university is welcoming to all and would remove the board and UC from the center of public controversy.

"We are spending enough energy on this thing that we could light the city of L.A. for weeks," said Regent Ward Connerly, author of SP-1 and SP-2, in explaining his decision to support Wednesday’s resolution.

Pro-affirmative action student activists inside and outside the auditorium — surprised to learn that the final resolution "rescinded" rather than "replaced" or "superseded" SP-1 and SP-2 — cheered the regents’ action and vowed to continue their efforts.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Delaine Eastin, a regent ex officio, offered a cautionary note: "The university is only as good as its K-12 feeder system. We have a lot of work ahead," she said, citing a projected shortfall of 300,000 public school teachers in California. "This is the beginning of a longer dialogue to dramatically increase the university’s role in training teachers."

The Academic Senate is now charged with developing recommendations for revised admissions criteria, unrestricted by SP-1’s requirement that 50 to 75 percent of applicants be evaluated on academic criteria alone. Faculty recommendations would go to the regents for approval, and be implemented by fall 2002.

According to Professor Michael Cowan, chair of UC’s Academic Council, the faculty will take up such questions as how to weigh academic and motivational factors and whether to retain the SAT 1 or another quantitative measure of college preparedness.

Math Professor Calvin Moore, who chairs the Berkeley Academic Senate committee responsible for setting admissions criteria, said that campus faculty, anticipating the possibility of such a change in regent’s policy, has been working since last fall to develop its recommendations.

"The policy is all drawn up and approved at the local level," he said.

According to Moore, the Berkeley Academic Senate’s Committee on Admissions, Enrollment and Preparatory Education wants to move to a "unitary process," giving all freshman applications a single score that combines academic criteria with qualities such as determination, maturity and how the student might use his or her education. At present, under requirements set out by SP-1, 50 percent of applicants are admitted based on their academic score alone.

"This proposed process would admit the entire class based on a single score," said Moore. "It’s a much more intellectually coherent policy."

The Berkeley faculty plans to forward its proposal to Atkinson and the statewide senate "momentarily," Moore said. "Discussions will start next week with statewide folks."

Sandra Haire, assistant vice chancellor for human resources, said that the repeal of SP-2, which covers hiring and contracting, may "impact the perception of UC Berkeley as an employer by minority communities. It will not significantly change policies and procedures," she said, "but the perception of applicants for employment will be that … we are interested in equalizing the playing field for all applicants and that we consider it important to reflect the diversity of our communities in our workforce."


Regents' resolution and background material


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