In 1996 California voters passed Proposition 209, which prohibited discrimination or preferential treatment based on race, ethnicity or sex in admissions to public college and universities. But the moment 209 passed, UCLA, according to a new book, set about figuring ways around it.
"Cheating: An Insider's Report on the Use of Race in Admissions at UCLA," by Professor Tim Groseclose, describes what the author insists are illegal admissions practices that he witnessed at UCLA.
Groseclose's story begins in 2008 when, as a member of a faculty oversight committee for admissions, he asked for a random set of application files. He suspected that UCLA was using racial preferences in its admissions decisions -- in violation of Prop 209. When UCLA refused to give him the files, he grew even more suspicious. In response, he resigned from the committee and alerted the press.
To divert attention away from his resignation, he says, UCLA formed the equivalent of a blue-ribbon commission. Specifically, it commissioned one of its sociology professors, whom it called an "independent researcher," to study UCLA admissions and to examine Groseclose's allegations about racial preferences.
Although the study was supposed to be completed in a year, UCLA did not release it until four years later. The statistical tests that the researcher conducted showed significant evidence of racial preferences. However, says Groseclose, UCLA wrote a press release claiming the opposite.
In addition to summarizing that report, Groseclose analyzes a data set that he obtained from UCLA via California's Public Records Act. That data set, which he has posted online and is accessible to the public, contains evidence that is even more damning to UCLA.
But perhaps more interesting than the data and statistical analyses is Groseclose's documentation of the suspicious ways that UCLA faculty and senior officials reacted when he asked for the data. They seemed to know that UCLA was breaking the law, and they resorted to desperate measures to prevent Groseclose and others from seeing the proof. Once Groseclose began to press them, he says, their responses became more and more fanciful. For instance, they claimed that "privacy" was the reason they couldn't give him the data. But then Groseclose suggested that they redact all names and personal identifiers from the applications. They still refused. Further, if they were so concerned with privacy, why did they give the data to the "independent researcher"?
They never gave Groseclose a plausible answer.