The Other College Admissions Scandals
Four University of California campuses–UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara–“unfairly admitted 64 applicants based on their personal or family connections to donors and university staff,” according to a September report by state auditor Elaine Howle. UC staffers “falsely designated 22 of these applicants as student‐athlete recruits because of donations from or as favors to well‐connected families.” The family of California Sen. Dianne Feinstein was involved in the scandal.
“Richard Blum, a wealthy investment banker and Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s husband,” the Mercury-News reported, “was revealed Thursday as the mystery University of California regent in a state audit earlier this week who inappropriately penned a letter that likely helped a borderline student gain admission to UC Berkeley.” Blum said it was “a bunch of nonsense” and “much ado about nothing.” That would surprise the state auditor, who noted that undermining the integrity of the admissions process “deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission.”
In similar style, show-business types offered bribes to get their academically unqualified children into prestigious universities. That too worked against the qualified students, and the special treatment continues. U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton, appointed by President George H.W. Bush, allowed actress Lori Loughlin to choose the prison where she will serve her two-month sentence for wire and mail fraud. As this plays out, an even bigger admissions scandal is in the works.
Proposition 16 on California’s November ballot seeks to allow “diversity” as a factor in public employment, education, and contracting decisions. In reality, the measure turns back the clock to the days of state-sponsored discrimination. Proposition 16 will repeal the 1996 Proposition 209, the California Civil Rights Initiative, which bars racial and ethnic preferences in state education, employment and contracting. As with the recent admissions scandals, those preferences deprived more qualified students of the opportunity for admission. If Proposition 16 passes, qualified students will again be deprived, on a scale much wider that the two other scandals. Voters should know that this has nothing to do with affirmative action.
Before and after Proposition 209, no group was prohibited from admission to California’s public colleges and universities. They can cast the widest possible net and help needy students on an economic basis. What they can’t do is give preference to students on the basis of race or ethnicity. On November 3, voters will decide whether California returns to a regime of government-sponsored discrimination.