UC Regents committee votes to approve freshman eligibility proposal

By Khalida Sarwari

The University of California Board of Regents’ Committee on Educational Policy voted unanimously today to approve a new proposal that would alter freshman admission eligibility, despite efforts by some local Asian American leaders who called upon the regents to delay action on the proposal.

The proposal would include a reduction in statewide eligibility from 12.5 percent to 9 percent of California high school graduates and local eligibility, or the percentage of students accepted from each high school in the state, would increase from 4 percent to 9 percent.

Supporters of the proposal maintain that the changes are necessary in order to expand the pool of potential applicants and to widen the door of opportunity for low-performing schools and all racial groups, according to UC spokesman Ricardo Vazquez.

“The goal is to give more students the opportunity to present their qualifications to UC campuses while continuing to provide a guarantee to the high-performing students,” Vazquez said.

The proposal will bring significant changes to the freshman admission policies, the most prominent being the elimination of the SAT II subject exam. Vazquez said the 2005 changes to the SAT I, including the addition of the writing component, aligned the exam more closely with the UC curriculum.

Studies conducted by the regents show a gradual decline of the SAT II subject exam as the best indicator of college-level performance, Vazquez said. The elimination of the exam would “remove a barrier for students,” Vazquez said.

Asian American leaders gathered Tuesday at Chinese for Affirmative Action headquarters in San Francisco to call on the University of California Board of Regents to delay action on the new proposal.

Vazquez said allegations that the plan would negatively affect Asian American applicants were addressed at the meeting today.

He said that may be true, but only in the sense that because Asian Americans meet eligibility requirements at a higher rate than any other racial group, the proportion of Asian American applicants in total would consequently decrease with the expansion of the pool.

Vazquez said that while the proposal has undergone extensive research, it is still not possible to make estimates or predictions about its ultimate effect on the applicant pool.

“We don’t know how students are going to adapt to the eligibility guidelines,” Vazquez said. “It is difficult to predict what percentages of students from each of these groups will be admitted with any degree of accuracy.”

The full board will take action on the proposal Thursday at around noon at the UC San Francisco Mission Bay Community Center, located at 1675 Owens St., San Francisco.

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