Push To Bring Back Affirmative Action At UC, CSU Faces Backlash

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Students walk near Sather Gate on the University of California at Berkeley campus. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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BERKELEY (KPIX 5) — The push to bring back affirmative action at California’s public universities is hanging by a thread. Several state lawmakers who previously supported the bill have now reversed course, amid a backlash among the Asian-American community.

Across California, 14 percent of the population is Asian-American. On the UC Berkeley campus, that number is 43 percent.

“Primarily Asian and lacking in African-Americans,” said Jackie Rouse, a student at UC Berkeley.

African-Americans make up only four percent of Berkeley’s student body, one of the reasons behind the push to use a student’s race and ethnicity as part of the college admissions process.

“There’s a lot of things that are working against people of color, specifically African-Americans. And so it’s definitely a stepping stone to help us get into places like this and prove that we are capable of being here,” Rouse told KPIX 5.

Student leaders across the UC system like Disha Banik want more diversity. “Especially being one of the very few Asian-Americans who are in support of this…publicly in support of this,” Banik said.

Thousands of Asian-American parents, like Carl Chan of Oakland, complained to state lawmakers. “We care about our kids’ education,” he said.

Chan called State Sen. Leland Yee and was one of 100,000 people to sign an online petition against the affirmative action amendment.

He is worried the idea to add diversity will mean fewer Asian-American students will be admitted to state schools.

“The reason they are here is for the better opportunity for our next generation,” Chan said.

Earlier this week, state senators sent a formal letter to Assembly Speaker John Perez urging him to stop the bill from advancing any further. Perez is reviewing the request.

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