UCLA

Crisis Point

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Published Oct 1, 2006 12:00 AM


The Crisis Erupts: How did it come to this?

Parker: When the figures were released with the announcement of UCLA enrolling 99 freshmen in the entering 2006 class, it became not only a major news story, but a major crisis for our campus. Today, we are going to look at how we got to where we are, what it means and where we go from here.

Montero: We have been concerned about a downward trend for quite some time. But admissions is an imprecise science, and if you look at the figures over the last five years or so, there were some ups and downs, some brought about by entirely different issues. For example, we had a smaller number of students across the board, so the [African-American] numbers were smaller, yet proportional to an overall decrease. We were hoping for larger numbers going forward.

Parker: Yolanda, what is the impact of this on alumni relations?

Nunn Gorman: Most of us came to the university because of its diversity, because of that heritage. And at this point, at least among alumni, it has been identified as a very severe crisis.

Parker: Mandla, you said at a press conference that the Black Alumni Association was outraged at the decline in freshman enrollment.

Kayise: Yes, it's been difficult over the past several months. You want African Americans to understand why you love UCLA so much because literally, they're wondering. We do feel, despite our deep connection to and love for UCLA, that we must fully express what people are expressing to us.

Taylor: I've had USC guys in my office come up and say, "I can't believe this." I went to lunch yesterday with a client who graduated from Yale, who said, "I was shocked at that number." When people outside of our family look at this as a serious problem, it deserves a strong institutional response.

Parker: Terry, what about the student perspective?

Flennaugh: I think the severity of the decline over the past years and the response — or lack thereof — from the university really makes [African-American] students feel isolated and alienated, particularly on a campus that has such a rich history of African-American alumni. They don't see themselves on campus. We'd be in a lecture hall with 300 other people, and we'd be lucky to find more than five other African Americans. And the university is not only cheating the African-American students, but the entire student population.

Lokman: We can end up at a point where talented students choose not to come here. And nobody wants that.

O'Brien: The point Terry made about the sense of a student on the campus feeling alienated affects everyone. And I do fear that unless we figure out how to fix this, and fast, we're going down a road that will erode our ability to compete for the best students — of any ethnicity.

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