Enrollment in the state's university system: Are blacks and Hispanics "under-represented" within the nine campuses of the University of California?
In its August 25 front-page report, the New York Times presented the data for all nine of the system's campuses. Here's the bulk of the brief report which accompanied the voluminous school-by-school data:
ASHKENAS, PARK AND PEARCE: (8/25/17): The number of Hispanic and black freshmen on the University of California campuses declined immediately after California’s affirmative action ban took effect, especially at the most sought-after campuses, said Stephen Handel, associate vice president for undergraduate admissions. The system put the ban in place in 1998.The Times is describing an obvious case of proportional under-enrollment. According to the Times' more detailed data, Hispanics made up 49 percent of the state's college-age population in 2015, the most recent year for which the Times had data. But Hispanics were only 33 percent of the freshmen enrollment in the university system's nine campuses that year.
Even now, both Hispanics and blacks are least represented at Berkeley, the most selective campus. On seven campuses, Hispanics now make up a quarter or more of the freshmen, but that’s still far below their share of the college-age population in the state, which is close to 50 percent.
A similar "enrollment gap" obtained in the case of blacks. Seven percent of the state's college-age population was black in 2015, but blacks were only three percent of the student enrollment at the university system's nine campuses.
As the Times reported, enrollment shortfalls were most striking at Berkeley and UCLA, the system's most competitive campuses. At UCLA, 24 percent of the freshmen were Hispanic in 2015. At Berkeley, the figure was only 15 percent.
Hispanic enrollmnt was highest at U.C. Merced (58 percent), the only campus where Hispanic enrollment outstripped that group's share of the student-age population. Black enrollment topped out at four percent at three of the system's campuses, including UCLA.
Why were enrollment figures so low for these two groups of kids? On Thursday and Friday, we'll take a look at that question.
For today, we'll only note the lousy job the New York Times did reporting its seminal question:
In 2015, were these groups even more under-represented at these campuses than they had been in the past—more specifically, way back in 1980? As a general matter, that was the central claim made by the New York Times front-page report.
With respect to the Cal university system, there's no real way to answer that question from the data the Times presented. More precisely:
In its typical incompetent way, the Times presented full data for 2015, but not for 1980. For example, as noted above, readers are told that Hispanics were 49 percent of the college-age population that year, but only 33 percent of the freshman enrollment.
But alas! As you can see if you examine the relevant graphics, the Times didn't publish the comparable figures for 1980. For that reason, it's hard to say if the degree of enrollment shortfall has grown since that time.
At any rate, there's no doubt about one basic point; at present, there's a substantial "enrollment gap" for blacks and Hispanics on these state university campuses. Why are blacks and Hispanics "under-represented" at these competitive schools?
Why are blacks and Hispanics "under-represented?" That's an important question. In the next few days, we'll examine the reasons the New York Times supplied in its very brief written report. Then, we'll look at testing data for public school students in the state of California as a whole.
Why do those "enrollment shortfalls" persist? The question is very important. The Times made little attempt at supplying an answer—but then too, the Times never does.