U.S. Office for Civil Rights finds UC Berkeley in full compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act

by Jesus Mena and Robert Sanders

Berkeley -- After a lengthy and thorough investigation of the freshman admissions process at the University of California at Berkeley, the U.S. Office for Civil Rights has found that it is in full compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin by educational institutions receiving federal financial assistance. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights oversees compliance with this regulation.

In a March 1 letter to UC Berkeley Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien the regional office summarized its findings, concluding that "The affirmative action aspect of the admissions system was designed to achieve a range of types of diversity in the student body; race was but one factor in the process. All students admitted, including those given affirmative action consideration, were highly qualified for admission, meeting rigorous UC standards. The program employed no quotas or set-asides, and all students, regardless of race or national origin, competed with all other students."

In summary, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) "found that UCB is in compliance with Title VI with regard to the undergraduate admission policies and procedures for the College of L&S."

The investigation was initiated in 1989 after a complaint was filed with OCR claiming not only that UC Berkeley maintained illegal quotas for minority students, but that the entire UC system segregated minority students away from other campuses to UC Berkeley. The Office for Civil Rights found the latter charge also groundless.

The OCR looked at the admissions process for the College of Letters and Science between 1989 and 1993, and how it had evolved since the early 1980s.

During its investigation OCR conducted extensive interviews with administrators and staff in the Office of Undergraduate Affairs and Relations with Schools, as well as with individual evaluators and those who read student essays. They also examined all evaluation procedures and did their own detailed statistical analysis of the outcome of the evaluation process.

They found that the policies complied fully with federal laws and with court decisions such as the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke.

The UC Berkeley admi ssions "process ensured that no applicant was considered or excluded from consideration for selection solely on the basis of race or national origin," the OCR letter stated.

"OCR determined that the effect of the affirmative consideration given to underrepresented minority applicants did no impose an undue burden on non-beneficiaries."

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